WisBusiness: La Crosse basketball franchise moves closer

By Gregg Hoffmann

LA CROSSE – To use a basketball term, the NBA Development League franchise for La Crosse seems to be in a fast break.

League president Phil Evans will visit La Crosse Monday and Tuesday. If the league’s governing board gives approval, Arkansas RimRockers owner Larry Crain Sr. said the team will officially move from Little Rock to La Crosse immediately.

“I have a commitment on the investor. I am not ready to announce anything, but I have a commitment,” Crain told the La Crosse Tribune last Friday. “I think everything has worked out. We have been able to hit the ground running and are just waiting on the NBA.”

Crain negotiated with officials of the La Crosse Center last week and reportedly was very close to having approval to use the facility. The board of the Center was scheduled to meet later this week.

The RimRockers would like at least a three-year lease with the Center. A schedule is a key to use of the Center, since La Crosse businesses in past surveys have said they do not want a sports franchise in the facility if it would keep conventions and trade shows away. The RimRockers would need about 50 dates in the Center.

Center director Art Fahey said the Center board has looked at updating the basketball floor and making other improvements, but was basically waiting for a permanent tenant before making any decision.

Crain said he has one minority owner that will meet the $250,000 local ownership requirement of the NBA D-League. That individual, he said, must pass background checks that will be done by the NBA.

Crain said he expects the NBA D-League officials to spend Monday and Tuesday in La Crosse, then notify him of their decision. Crane believes a decision could come as early as Wednesday.