There's No Room at the Bren, So Wildcats Won't Be in League

Times Staff Writer

Time appears to have run out for the Orange County Wildcats, whose management had planned to begin play in the Continental Basketball Assn. next season.

After failing to secure a playing facility for their home dates, the Wildcats will not be accepted into the CBA for the 1988-89 season, according to Jim Tooley, a public relations assistant for the league.

"At the owners meeting on June 24, it was decided not to have a team in Orange County," Tooley said.

But there remains some confusion about the team's future.

Team officials believe they might still have time to reach agreement with UC Irvine for use of the Bren Center, but that was disputed by Tooley and by John Caine, Irvine athletic director.

Brian McInerney, the Wildcats' director of marketing, said they originally had until last week to find a home arena.

"Officially, the league gave us until last week," McInerney said. "Unofficially, we probably have until the end of this week."

Said Tooley: "This is not the case."

Caine said that having a CBA team at the Bren Center would conflict with the Anteaters' basketball program.

"We'd be competing for the same entertainment dollar and the same sponsors," Caine said. "I don't see how it helps us. However, the athletic department does not run the Bren Center."

Steve Neal, general manager for the facility, was unavailable for comment Monday.

McInerney said that the team would not consider an alternate Orange County facility. The Bren Center seats 5,000, making it the largest arena available in the county. The Anaheim Convention Center, which seats about 7,00 for basketball, doesn't have the open dates to accommodate a CBA team's home schedule.

"Every other facility has bleacher seats," he said. "That's not the type of setting we want to showcase. If we don't reach an agreement with the Bren, it will end all possibilities of a franchise in Orange County."

Said Caine: "I don't see our position changing. It's nothing personal, it's just not to our benefit."

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