High costs of Energy KOs playoffs

Team expects to be back on court next season

By Chris O’Leary, edmontonjournal.com June 30, 2010

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Energy’s second season came to a premature close on Tuesday.

The 14-6 team announced on its Facebook page that its group ownership pulled the plug on the season three days before the Energy was to travel to Portland, Ore., for the International Basketball League playoff tournament.

The ownership group decided it couldn’t afford to send the team to Portland after two seasons of losing money.

“They felt that they had put in as much money as they could justify into the season,” said Energy head coach and general manager Paul Sir. “They couldn’t put any more in, so it was important for the future of the team to not take the loss.”

It’s palm-to-the-forehead ironic, because Sir seem to know that while going to the playoffs may have done in the team financially, not going could be a longer, more painful death.

“It doesn’t help (the team’s future),” he said. “I’m confident — if I’m back — that I can get guys and assemble a quality team.

“To have the rug pulled out from under us at the last second is pretty tough.”

If the Energy is back next season, which Sir says is the ownership group’s plan, this playoff pullout could make it tough to bring quality players back.

“I don’t know what that does to potential players. It’s gotta hurt, though,” said Steve Sir, Paul’s son. “With every other team, I’m assuming, the whole season includes playoffs, if you make it.

“Who knows? I’m sure it’s one of those things where guys are going to have to ask if we’re going to go to playoffs right up front. That’s something that’s going to have to be known right away. If it’s not, I don’t know what that’s going to do.”

Paul Sir said he had offers of financial help from three non-related parties on Monday and Tuesday, when word got out about the team’s situation, but it was too late. The IBL, which makes the playoff tournament optional for teams, required confirmation of the Energy’s presence by Monday.

While Energy centre Lee Scruggs and guard Rashaun Broadus were dumbfounded by what happened, they said if they had a guarantee next year from ownership on a post-season, they would return.

“It’s a great situation here,” Scruggs said. “There were no problems (with getting paid). This was a shock to all of us; it came out of the blue. We were expecting to have a good practice (on Tuesday) and go to Portland (today) and go win a championship.”

“I never thought it would happen with this team,” said Broadus, who is lining up his next basketball gig in either France or Hungary.

“I hope it doesn’t hurt the future for the Energy,” he added. “I like the people, the coaches, the players, everybody. If there’s another chance to play in this city, I would definitely come back.”

Over the last two years, the Energy has struggled to attract fans, whether they were playing at MacEwan College, as they did in 2009, or at the University of Alberta’s Main Gym, which they did for most of this season.

While crowd sizes improved toward the end of the season, they still only pushed the 500-600 mark.

Part of the problem may be that the defunct Edmonton Chill, which had a fly-by-night owner split town with debts well into five figures two years ago, seems to have a higher profile than the Energy, which has played the last two IBL seasons.

“A lot of people I’ve talked to said, ‘You played for the Chill.’ Well, that was two years ago,” said Steve Sir.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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