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Will the ABA's Pittsburgh Condors move to Birmingham?

March 14, 1972
     American Basketball Association logo
The Pittsburgh Condors, a member of the American Basketball Association, will be playing a regular season "home" game in Birmingham.

The opponent will be the Kentucky Colonels and the game will be played on March 24th at Municipal Auditorium.   

Apparently, Birmingham is on a list of cities for the struggling Condors to possibly relocate to at the end of the season.

Condors PR Director Fred Cranwell says the Condors and the ABA Commissioner Jack Dolph will be closely watching Birmingham's attendance.

"I think I can safely say we will not be in Pittsburgh next year. I can't say where we will go because we don't know. We will go where we are wanted. I can't say we will offer Birmingham our club, but I can't rule Birmingham out either. But Birmingham is certainly one of the towns we're considering," Cranwell said.

The Condors have decided to play most, if not all, remaining home games in different cities to test the response. They recently played in Tucson but only 1,200 fans showed up.

Cranwell said he expects the 4,000 seat Auditorium to be full on game night.

Two other ABA teams are rumored to be looking for new homes, the Miami Floridians and the Memphis Pros. Dolph, however, recently said the Memphis franchise will not be moved.

The Birmingham Jaycees, who organized the game here, pledge to bring more ABA games if the fans come out. "We're not going to get a football or baseball franchise here. And we feel the ABA would bring a team in here if the fans want one. We have guaranteed each club $5,000 and 50 percent of the gate for this game. So, even with a sellout, we're not going to make anything. We just want to break even or keep from losing too much money. If we can do this, we will bring more games to Birmingham," said Jaycees member Ken Sullivan.

The Condors currently sit in last place in the league standings.

March 24, 1972
The Condors lost their "home" game in Birmingham to the Kentucky Colonels 134-107.

While not filling the 4,000-seat Municipal Auditorium, an estimated 3,000 fans attended the game.

October 1972

American Basketball Association logo 1972-73                            
American Basketball Association                             
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  Carolina Cougars logo   Dallas Chaparrals logo   Denver Rockets logo   Indiana Pacers logo   Kentucky Colonels logo  
  Carolina Cougars   Dallas Chaparrals   Denver Rockets   Indiana Pacers
Champion badge
  Kentucky Colonels  
  Memphis Tams logo   New York Nets logo   San Diego Conquistadors logo   Utah Stars logo   Virginia Squires logo  
  Memphis Tams   New York Nets   San Diego Conquistadors   Utah Stars   Virginia Squires  

The 1971-72 American Basketball Association regular season ended just a few days after the Condors played a "home" game in Birmingham. They failed to make the playoffs.

Condors owner Haven Industries and the league tried to move the Condors to a bigger market after the season. They were unable to do so, and in June 1972 the ABA canceled the Condors franchise, ending Birmingham's dream of securing an ABA team.

     National Basketball Association logo
The league continued to play until they were able to force a merger with the National Basketball Association in the 1976 offseason. Four ABA teams were absorbed into the NBA, the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs. As part of the merger agreement, the four teams were not permitted to participate in the 1976 NBA Draft.

The merger was particularly hard on the Nets; the New York Knicks were firmly established in their arena, Madison Square Garden, and would not permit the Nets to share dates there. For their drawing a potential audience away from the Knicks, the Nets were forced to pay $4.3M to the Knicks organization. Instead, the Nets offered superstar Julius Erving, but the Knicks declined. The Nets had to settle for an arena in New Jersey and to meet expenses, were forced to sell the contract of Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Two other clubs, the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis, were disbanded upon the merger, with each getting a buyout. The Colonels received a one-time buyout that owner John Y. Brown, Jr. used to purchase the NBA's Buffalo Braves, while the Spirits owners negotiated a cut of the other ABA teams' television revenues in perpetuity. This deal netted the ownership group of the Spirits over $300M through nearly four decades due to a large increase in television revenues. In 2014, the NBA and the Spirits ownership agreed to phase out future payments in exchange for a one-time payment of $500M, making the total value for the deal over $800M.

The seventh remaining team, the Virginia Squires, received nothing as they had ceased operations shortly before the merger.

Professional basketball would eventually come to the Magic City, in the form of the Continental Basketball Association's Birmingham Bandits in 1991.

American Basketball Association logo Teams of the                            
American Basketball Association                             
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  Anaheim Amigos logo   Carolina Cougars logo   Dallas Chaparrals logo   Denver Nuggets logo   Denver Rockets logo  
  Anaheim Amigos
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1969-70 to 1973-74
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  Spirits of St. Louis
1974-75 to 1975-76
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  Texas Chaparrals
  The Floridians
1970-71 to 1971-72
  Utah Stars
1970-71 to 1975-76
  Virginia Squires
1970-71 to 1975-76
  Washington Caps
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Last update: February 19, 2023