Friday, March 26, 2004

Lightning still looking for place to call home


The Southern Crescent Lightning, the Peachtree City-based entry in the new World Basketball Association minor league, has scheduled a one-day free agent camp to audition players this Saturday at Mt. Zion High School in Clayton County.

But a decision on where the Lightning will actually play games remains to be settled, barely a month away from the scheduled April 30 home opener with the Rome Gladiators.

When the team was first announced on March 5, organizers said 10 home games would be played at Starr’s Mill High School south of Peachtree City, but no agreement had been reached with Fayette County school officials.

Some Starr’s Mill administrators reportedly heard about the pro team’s plans to use their campus through the media, and remain opposed to the idea, sources say.

The two-month WBA season is designed to avoid conflict with local school athletic calendars, as well as with the NBA.

Of the 10 home games scheduled at Starr’s Mill, just three would be played before the school year ends May 28: The home opener against Rome; a May 1 contest with the Tunica, Miss., Gamblers; and a May 8 game with the Jackson, Miss., Rage.

But the fourth home game on the schedule, against the Chattanooga Majic, is set for May 28 at 7 p.m. — the same night Starr’s Mill will hold graduation in the school stadium.

Last Thursday night, the Peachtree City Council approved a request to waive fees for use of the Kedron Fieldhouse basketball courts for another free agent camp on April 3, as well as for daily practices by the Lightning through the season.

According to the agreement brokered between Mayor Steve Brown and team coach Litterial Green, a resident of the city, the Lightning will use one court for practice Monday through Friday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. April 19 through May 28.

Instead of the usual $70 an hour fee, which is the charge to Peachtree City residents, Green asked that the team be allowed to use the court in exchange for in-kind services, such as free basketball camps or clinics for local youth.

The council approved the request, under the condition that the team work out some deal with the school board on where to play home games.

In a memo to Leisure Services Director Randy Gaddo dated last Thursday, Scott McCord, supervisor of the Kedron Fieldhouse, said the odds were “fifty-fifty” that the Board of Education would go along with the idea, citing a conversation he had with Wayne Robinson, assistant superintendent for operations.

McCord wrote that Robinson “hoped they had a plan ‘B’” for home games due to complaints from parents and others.

School officials are also concerned about how it will look to be receiving revenue from a private enterprise while considering a November tax initiative to build more classrooms, McCord said.

According to Robinson, at a minimum the school would charge $125 an hour to rent the Starr’s Mill gym, in addition to a percentage of the gate receipts and concessions. McCord said Robinson estimated a profit of $20,000 for the school “if gate and concessions are good.” In addition, Starr’s Mill would get a new sound system for its gym in the deal being offered, Robinson said.

Even if a deal were to be agreed upon, it would have to be approved by the Fayette County School Board. The next scheduled meeting of the board is an April 6 budget workshop, but that remains uncertain because it falls during spring break. The next regular business meeting will be held April 19, less than two weeks before the start of the WBA season.

The World Basketball Association has been formed as a development league to teach, develop and expose players to coaches and scouts in the NBA, NBDL, CBA and other leagues.

The other teams in the league are the Rome Gladiators, the Tunica Gamblers, the Jackson, Miss., Rage, the Chattanooga Magic, the Raleigh, N.C., Knights, the Macon Blaze and the Kentucky Reach of Louisville.

Free agent camps will be a one-day camp on Saturday, March 27 at Mt. Zion High School, 2535 Mt. Zion Parkway, Jonesboro. The camp will consist of two sessions with the first starting at 9 a.m. and the second ending at 5 p.m. The camps will include shooting drills, free throws, 5 vs. 5, and other scouting activities.

All players participating in the camp will receive a WBA Southern Crescent Lightning t-shirt and have the option to purchase a video copy of the tryout sessions. Fees are $99 for registration and players have the option to purchase a video of the camp session for an additional $15.

There are limited spots available and only pre-registered players will have a guaranteed spot. For more information, call 770-486-8677 or go online at

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