WATERLOO | Area sports fans will have a new team to get behind this spring.
The Cedar Valley Court Kings, a minor league professional basketball franchise, will make their debut in April as part of the new 11-team Midwest Basketball League.
Waterloo was once the home to the highest level of pro basketball when the NBA's Waterloo Hawks played here in 1949-50.
Under the ownership and management of local sports figure Gary Rima, the Court Kings will provide a developmental opportunity for former collegiate players, as well as officials and front office personnel, while also providing the Cedar Valley with another source of quality sports entertainment.
The Court Kings will play a 14-game schedule in their inaugural season beginning on the road April 23 against the Sioux City Hornets. The Court Kings will play their home games at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex with a May 15 opener.
Cedar Valley will play in the MBL's West Division which, in addition to Sioux City, includes the Minnesota Broncos out of St. Paul, the Minnesota Rangers out of Minneapolis, the Chicago Fury and the Wisconsin Storm from the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa.
Rima, the radio play-by-play announcer for University of Northern Iowa men's basketball and football and host of the On Press Row radio talk show, said he is still putting together his coaching and management staff, and will put his team together through a combination of recruiting and tryouts.
"It's to give guys just out of college or guys who have been out of college a couple of years a chance to play in a minor league, entry-level system," said Rima, who also spent five seasons as general manager of the Waterloo Bucks baseball club. "Our goal would be to get them to move up the ladder of professional basketball."
Season tickets for the Court Kings are $45 for adults and $25 for those 18 and under. Children under the age of 6 will be admitted free. The team will also have a booster club with various sponsorship levels available, and it will rely on other sponsorships and sales efforts for financing.
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"Hopefully, the businesses and the people of Waterloo and Cedar Falls will support us and see the good of something I think can really be a positive for the city of Waterloo and for the Cedar Valley," noted Rima.
"I think basketball is really at a high right now in the state of Iowa. I think with the success of UNI, Iowa, Iowa State ... I think the interest is as high right now in college basketball in this area as I've seen in a long, long time.
"I've looked at some of these leagues in previous years and held off. It just seems like this is a good organization and I like the way they've set it up."
Rima said teams in the new league will be able to pay their players if they so choose.
"Some teams will have guys who just want the exposure and the chance to play. Other guys will get paid," said Rima. "We will do probably a little bit of both. Our guys will get a stipend. We will pay for their travel, pay for their expenses. We'll work to house them if they need housing. We'll work to find them a parttime job in the spring and summer if they come in and need to work."
Outgoing Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark applauded Rima's timing and his vision.
"When I found out what Gary was going to do ... I'm just so excited about this," said Clark.
For more information about the Court Kings, call (319) 269-5924 or email email@example.com.