Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Bregmans Take Over Thunderbirds
By Glen Rosales
For the Journal
Sam and Jackie Bregman are no longer minority owners of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds.
Instead, the Albuquerque-based, husband-and-wife team recently completed the outright purchase of the NBA Development League team from prior owner David Kahn. Financial details of the transaction were not released.
The Thunderbirds have a 12-12 record in this, their fourth season, and won the NBADL title in their first season.
The Bregmans first bought a 20-percent share of the team during that 2006-07 championship campaign, representing local ownership.
Sam Bregman, a prominent Albuquerque defense attorney and a former city councilor, has been known as a big sports booster, particularly of the Albuquerque Isotopes and the University of New Mexico.
That certainly won't change, he said.
"We're so excited that we have this opportunity," he said. "We have a great example right down the street of a successful minor league franchise in the Isotopes. We want them to continue to succeed. We want the Lobos to succeed. We really want to help turn this into a great sports town."
Co-owner Jackie Bregman said this move will give her an opportunity to get more involved in the day-to-day operation of the team and mold its future direction.
"The league has learned that the most-successful business model for its teams is to have local ownership and control," she said. "When you have a local owner, people want to do business with a local owner."
The team has not yet experienced the same success off the court as it has on the court, but each season, the attendance climbs. In nine games this season, attendance is at 2,540, which represents an almost 25 percent increase over the first season.
"Our fan base continues to grow every year," Jackie Bregman said. "And we believe that as we explore new marketing opportunities, it will continue to grow."
The biggest challenge, Sam Bregman said, is getting information out to the area's sports fans.
"We know this is a basketball town and it's a Lobos town," he said. "But we need to continue to show people that we have NBA-caliber basketball here. It's affordable, family entertainment. For $5 not only do you a parking space, but you also get a seat inside Tingley Coliseum. We are a great entertainment value."
The number of players in the NBA who have seen an NBADL court is at 20 percent, and that continues to grow.
"People can potentially see the NBA stars of tomorrow right here in Albuquerque," Sam Bregman said. "How can you beat that?"
What's more, he added, sports franchises are important for a city's growth.
"If we want to attract business, we have to have ways to entertain people," Sam Bregman said. And now that the team is wholly owned locally, the Bregmans said they would welcome the input of interested parties who want to help see the team succeed.
"We want people to tell us how we're doing," he said. "And if people are interested in investing, we are looking for some people who would be willing to invest in the team."