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Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009

BJ-LEAGUE

Five Arrows will play as search for sponsors continues


By ED ODEVEN and KAZ NAGATSUKA
Staff writers

The Takamatsu Five Arrows are still in dire financial straits, but they are moving along to prepare for the season's opening game against the host Sendai 89ers on Oct. 3.

Masashi Takeda, the team's director of public relations, confirmed on Friday the team is ¥55 million short of the ¥80 million in additional funds it estimated it needed to field a team this season.

Asked if the bj-league team had secured a big sponsor, Takeda responded by saying, "We're afraid we can't answer that question."

He did say, however, the city of Takamatsu will provide a financial discount to the team for its use of Takamatsu City Gymnasium.

"Also, we announced that we have started looking for individual sponsors," Takeda said. "An individual sponsor can put his or her name on the sidelines of the SportCourt at our home games starting from ¥10,000. As of yesterday, we've received 442 shares. We're looking at (having) 1,000 shares during the season."

Increasing non-reserved ticket sales is also a priority, he said. To keep costs down, the Five Arrows also plan to use more volunteer staff this season, especially for game-day operations.

The team's biggest question mark of all, however, will be the makeup of its roster and how it will change during the long 52-game season.

As of Friday, the Five Arrows had six players under contract, according to Takeda, who said two practice squad players could be added to the roster before the season opener. But first-year coach John Neumann will meet with front office personnel to make this decision.

Takamatsu will likely begin the season without any foreign players. Indeed, this would be a competitive disadvantage in the bj-league, and the team is well aware of this.

"We're going to talk about that in our meetings as well," said Takeda. "We'll keep looking at our financial status, and if we can afford to, we'll let the head coach decide his player personnel and things like that."

"We're very small," said Neumann in a Thursday phone conversation. "But if we can shoot and rebound, we'll be OK."

In other league news, Akita's 2010-11 expansion franchise will be called the Akita Northern Happinets, the league announced on Thursday.



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