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Will Birmingham play in the United Basketball League?

April 14, 1979
A representative of the newly formed United Basketball League is in Birmingham to locate potential investors to financially back the proposed team that would play in Boutwell Auditorium.

Other cities in consideration include Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, Mobile, El Paso, Anaheim, Wichita Falls, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Denver, Pueblo, and Shreveport.

The UBL was founded by Salt Lake City businessman Edward L. Brown.

  Country music legend, and
former Birmingham Black
Baron, Charley Pride
"We're talking about something in the $50,000 to $75,000 range. That's the cost of the franchise," said league official Warren Walk. The total yearly operating costs would be around $800,000. "The new league would be the Class AAA league of baseball."

The UBL would be considered a prime alternative to the European leagues for some players. The top salary for each team would be around $30,000. The league hopes to have between eight and 16 teams that will each play a 72 game schedule.

League innovations might include a 20 second shot clock, two 26 minute halves, a three point field goal outside of 20 feet, and seven personal fouls.

Rumor has it that a part-owner of the league is singer Charley Pride. Before he became a music star, Pride was a pitcher in the minor leagues, and played for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1954.

Owners are already lined up in Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, and El Paso.

"We have 32 cities that we are looking at. Cities must have a population of 175,000 or better, and a metropolitan area of over 250,000. They have to have a place to play that will seat at least 5,000. We hope to have eight teams lined up by the middle of next month. Certainly, by the middle of June we'll know if it's go or no-go for this coming season," Walk said.

The answer was unfortunately "no-go".

The United Basketball League never got past the planning stages and as a result, no games were ever played.
Contact Gene Crowley
Last update: March 26, 2022