Patroons sue over canceled season

The Albany Patroons want to body check in federal court the spring basketball league that cancelled
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The Albany Patroons want to body check in federal court the spring basketball league that cancelled its 2008 season less than two years after the minor league team joined it.

The Patroons on Monday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the United States Basketball League, accusing the Milford, Conn.-based company of breach of contract and fraud. The basketball team joined the USBL in 2006, shortly after it ended a 14-year hiatus from the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany.

The Patroons are demanding $285,000 in damages partly stemming from decreased ticket sales at home games, along with decreased advertising and media coverage.

For parts of 2006 and last year, the Patroons participated in USBL games, which run from mid-April through June. The team plays in those games after its season with the Continental Basketball Association, another minor league that runs from mid-November through March.

When the Patroons bought a USBL franchise in June 2006, league officials allegedly promised the USBL would consist of 10 teams divided into two divisions. They also promised that the league’s 2008 postseason championship festival would be played at the Washington Avenue Armory, according to court documents.

However, by the end of the 2007 season, only six teams were able to compete in the league and its two divisions had been merged into one, according to the suit.

At the same time, some Patroon games were either rescheduled or cancelled. The team opted to not participate in last year’s playoffs and no championship festival is slated for the Washington Avenue Armory this year.

The USBL in December cancelled its 2008 season, saying it wanted to increase the league’s number of franchises before the next season. League spokesman Jacob Gordon could not comment on the Patroon suit. He said USBL games should resume playing next spring.

Patroons attorney Andrew Wood did not know whether the Albany team would participate in the USBL’s 2009 season. Team General Manager Jim Coyne did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Since being founded in 1984, the USBL has produced NBA all-star players such as Mugsey Bogues, Manute Bol and Spud Webb. In 1995, it became the first publicly-traded sports league, which trades on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board.

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