You would never know it by looking at their 1-19 record, but the Buffalo Stampede of the PBL (Premier Basketball League) were actually a success last year.
They were a success in the mere fact the club finished the season. After multiple failed attempts by other owners to bring professional basketball to Buffalo, Vincent Lesh stepped up the plate before last season and made sure history didn’t repeat himself.
Last year with a late fold of the Buffalo ABA team, the PBL approached Lesh about 6 weeks before the season started, asking him if he’d be interested in buying the Buffalo team. Lesh got his career started by owning multiple Buffalo area restaurants and clubs, all while promoting local and national concerts. When the PBL came to Vincent, he knew it was a must.
He’s been a huge Buffalo basketball fan dating back to the Buffalo Braves days.
“I’ve always wanted to see basketball succeed on a professional level in Buffalo,” Lesh told me. “I know there are scores of rabid fans in the Western New York area who will pay to see high quality basketball and that’s exactly what the PBL is. This is rapidly becoming the second best league in North America after the NBA.”
Last season the goal for Lesh and the Stampede was to build stability and longevity in the organization. That aspect was completed, but the on-court product was simply inferior.
“Last season we didn’t have the team to close out games.” Lesh said. “We could be up 10 or down 15 in the fourth quarter and we’d lose by 10 every game. We’ve got a far more talented team this season and a coach (Jim Condill) that’s been in the business for a very long time and had a lot of success.”
But to turn a team around you need talent. Lesh feels the organization has went a long way towards adding impact players since last season ended. They selected Maurice Smith with the fourth overall pick in the PBL draft. Smith, a 6-5 guard/forward formerly of Rockford College, has played the past two seasons in the IBL (International Basketball League).
Elize Bibbs went to the team nine teams later. He’s also a 6-5 guard who played his college ball for Ferris State. He was the leading scorer in the Eurobasket Summer League in Chicago this summer.
But Lesh is keen enough on the business side to know having a roster with plenty of local flavor will be a bigger draw for area fans.
For that reason, Lesh is holding a press conference at 11am Monday morning at the UB Alumni Arena. At that time he’ll announce the signing of four players, including former Niagara Falls high school and UB Bulls standout Greg Gamble. Also on hand to formally sign their contracts will be former UB players Rod Middleton, Danny Gilbert and Andy Robinson.
He’s also slatted to unveil a special promotion for season tickets. Between now and when individual game tickets go on sale (December 1st) the Stampede is offering a buy one — get another half off season ticket package.
You can get a pair of general admission season tickets for as low as $75.00 or two reserved seating season tickets for as little as $150.00
“Our goal is to make watching quality professional basketball affordable for everyone,” Lesh said. “To be able to watch athletes of this caliber perform and only pay an average of $3.75 to $7.50 bucks a pop is cost efficient and affordable to fans of all incomes.”
The Stampede will play 10 homes this year, and all of them will be played at the Canisius College Koessler Athletic Center. The season begins in Quebec on January 2 and seven days later is the Stampede home opener against league defending champions Rochester.
You can order your season tickets now at the reduced price by calling the Stampede ticket office at 603-9749.
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