Owners of the six teams of Major League Volleyball voted to suspend operation of the women’s professional league, a month into its third season, it was announced Monday.
Robert Batinovich, league chairman, said Monday that the league will suspend operations after Saturday’s all-star game in San Jose. The remaining six weeks of the regular season were canceled.
Lindy Vivas, league commissioner, said there are plans for the league to return in 1990, although she is not entirely sure that will happen.
“We definitely have to take a look at how things have gone and where they can go,” she said.
Vivas attributed the league’s trouble to “immediate cash flow problems.” George Corey, Los Angeles Starlites co-owner, estimated league losses Monday between $2.9 million and $3.2 million.
Those losses were in large part because of the failure of teams in the three major media markets, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Each of those teams averaged about 500 spectators a game, league officials said. Teams in smaller markets, San Jose (1,900), Minnesota (2,000) and Portland, Ore. (1,500), have been the league’s best draws.
“For a combination of reasons, whether it be the lack of local ownership, the marketplace, or the way the teams were promoted, the franchises in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles failed financially,” San Jose owner Gary Schwing said. “The owners of the three successful franchises were unable to bail out the other three (teams), and the league was forced to suspend operations.”
Corey said: “It would have taken a half a million (dollars) to finish the year. It just wasn’t there. We wanted to make sure we could pay everyone.”
Members of the Los Angeles Starlites, who played their home games at UC Irvine’s Bren Center and were 5-5 this season, were informed Sunday of the suspension at Los Angeles International Airport, as they returned from a two-game trip.
“We got off the plane and George (Corey) and (general manager) Fran (Cummings) met us and let us know what had happened,” said Al Gasparian, Starlites coach. “It was bizarre, they took us into this little lounge to tell us. Everybody was really disappointed. But you kind of had to wonder. When people are sinking a lot of money into this and no one is in the stands, you have to wonder.”