- National Teams
A consortium of investors are actively considering a proposal to establish a new BBL franchise in Birmingham for the 2023/24 season.
The consortium, led by former BBL Commercial Director Bob Hope and working with the City of Birmingham Rockets basketball club, including club ambassador and NBA Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon, has officially registered their interest with the league.
“We have been working with Bob Hope over the past few months concerning the concept of bringing back to Birmingham a team playing in the topflight of the game,” Kirk Dawes, chairman of the Birmingham Rockets said in a release this morning.
“Our relationship with the investors includes a commitment to our Junior Development programme, started in 2003 by Rob Palmer, that saw Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest players of all time, join us seven years ago. We will continue to work with Bob and the investors with every effort to make this dream a reality”.
The BBL has not been in Birmingham since the failed Birmingham Knights franchise who lasted one season in 2013-14. The Birmingham Bullets are the city’s most successful former franchise, who played professionally from 1980 to 2006. Hope was the GM of that team.
“I simply can’t wait to bring professional elite basketball back to Birmingham,” he said.
“Some of the best years of my career were based in this vibrant city, when, in 1980 I and some colleagues, at the request of Doug Ellis (director of Aston Villa FC) moved Team Fiat from Coventry to Birmingham. While I was head coach and general manager for the renamed team, the Birmingham Bullets, the club and the sport thrived. The establishment of a new professional team in Birmingham will give the city a real boost, especially coming off the back of the Commonwealth Games this summer.”
With the league having recently taken on a £7million investment from 777 Partners , they have been clear about the need to add more franchises, targeting 4 additional sides in the next five years.
Hakeem Olajuwon, director and club ambassador of The Birmingham Rockets also commented:
“When I came to this great city, I found a jewel in the form of City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club, with so many kids from all races and cultures in this vibrant city working together. It was natural for me to become involved. Seven years ago, I asked the question, where is the professional club? People told me about the great days of Birmingham Bullets and how the city no longer had a franchise.
“However, on being introduced to Kirk and Rob, I saw the club’s commitment to the game and to the development of the kids. This is excellent news, finding people we can work with who will partner our fantastic development programme and bring the professional game back to Birmingham.”
While Robert Palmer, managing director, Birmingham Rockets added:
“The club has been at the forefront of providing basketball opportunities in the region for almost 20 years catering for thousands of young people during that period. We have always operated a model of organic growth, whilst being open to working with partners who share our vision.
“Our steady sustained growth and reputation has led us to meeting investors whose values and aspirations are aligned to our own. I’m excited that the return of topflight basketball to our great city is currently being explored with our involvement.”