The rumor that the ABA's Pittsburgh Condors are going to move to New Haven, Conn. seems ridiculous on the face of it. Why would a team want to move from the huge metropolitan Pittsburgh area (2.4 million people, according to the 1970 census) to a minor league town like New Haven (137,000 in the city, only 348,000 in the area)?
The answer—if the rumors prove true—lies in the regional concept that has caught the imagination of pro basketball. A fast 35 miles north of New Haven is Hartford, capital of Connecticut and focus of a metropolitan area with 663,000 people. Thirty miles north of Hartford—and still not much more than an hour from New Haven—is Springfield, Mass., with another half million in its environs. Fifteen miles west of New Haven is Bridgeport and another 400,000. A team playing its home games in this compact region would have nearly two million people to draw on before it ever began to count the many towns and smaller cities that pepper the southern New England landscape. The threat could be real, Pittsburgh.
You might recall a somewhat indignant organization called Sports Fans of America (SI, Sept. 7, 1970), which was founded by Dominic Piledggi of Baltimore to give long-suffering followers of sport a chance for organized redress instead of being patsies all the time. "We started with four people," says Piledggi, "and we hoped for 50,000 members. At $4 per year dues, that would have given us enough money to make some impact. There's no way managements would not have listened to us."
But Sports Fans of America peaked, if that's the word, too early. In his own habitat, Baltimore, where there was outspoken criticism of Colt management, membership reached only 800. Nationally, instead of climbing to 50,000, it eased off at the 2,000 level. If not moribund, the best that can be said at the moment for SFA is that it is regrouping.
Apathy and indifference have always been the bane of the revolutionary. Piledggi detects the symptoms even in himself. Although he considers TV a constant threat to the fan, he found himself staying home this fall to watch on the tube instead of going out lo the stadium. "I have a season ticket," he says, "but I didn't see a Colt game all year."