Energy was the word of the day Tuesday as two Pike County men unveiled their plans to bring professional basketball back to Eastern Kentucky
At a press conference held at the historic Garfield House in the Pikeville City Park, team owners Tom Hamilton and Jerry Boggs outlined their plans for the East Kentucky Energy, which will begin play in the American Basketball Association in December.
“We couldn’t be more excited about this,” said Hamilton. “We’ve been working with the ABA for several months to lay the groundwork for this. The league is in a tremendous position. With plans for approximately 70 teams to play next year, its the largest professional sports league in the nation and gives us a solid foundation to build upon.”
The Energy is set to play in the South Central Division with teams such as the Kentucky Bisons, Bluegrass Stallions and West Virginia Blazers.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be back in eastern Kentucky,” said Joe Newman, ABA CEO. “Basketball is king there and the area has a long heritage of supporting professional basketball. The new owners, Tom Hamilton and Jerry Boggs, are exceptional people with a great understanding of what it takes to be an outstanding organization both on and off the court. We know that they will have one of the best operations in the ABA.”
Hamilton said the Energy will complete the basketball puzzle in Eastern Kentucky, which already boasts top-notch high school and college basketball teams, but lacks a professional franchise.
“Nowhere will you find more passionate, or more knowledgeable basketball fans than in Eastern Kentucky,” said Boggs. “And you will also find some of the best basketball, the most pure basketball in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Every back yard has a basket, even if it’s a bucket nailed to a tree.
“This is the heart of basketball. These mountains are home to the best basketball fans on the planet and we look forward to bringing them a team they can rally behind and support.”
Hamilton explained the choice of the team’s name and it’s role in promoting the region.
“Eastern Kentucky quite literally fuels this country,” said Hamilton. “We want the rest of the country to understand the tremendous assets we have here in the mountains, both our natural assets and the hardworking men and women that make this community so special.”
Both Hamilton and Boggs stressed their commitment to making sure the Energy is strongly based in the local community.
“Our commitment is to making sure the Energy is truly Eastern Kentucky’s team,” said Boggs. “We want the Energy to be something that not only we can be proud of and root for, but something the entire region can get behind.”
Hamilton echoed the importance of building a team deeply rooted in the coal fields.
“This is something we feel is very good for the community,” he said. “We support the people of this region, what they represent and what they do. We hope to build a fan base that supports this team just as strongly.”
Hamilton said plans are in place to donate thousands of tickets over the course of the season to young people throughout the region.
“Part of our obligation to this community is to ensure that our young people get a chance to enjoy the games,” said Hamilton. “We’re going to offer not just great basketball, but entertainment for the whole family at prices they can afford.”
An extension of that commitment to community involvement and entertainment, Boggs said, is plans for special promotional events during each of the team’s 15 home games.
“Not only do we want to use our home games as an opportunity pay tribute to the hard working men and women of our community, we also want to have a lot us fun with this,” said Boggs. “Our goal is for each game to be an event. We’re going to have something special each and every night.”
“The Energy is building” said Hamilton. “We owe a lot to the sponsors who have already gotten on board with us. We gotta thank Coleman and Company, Deskins Motors, Kenealy and Jacobi, Charlie Pinson Insurance and the Appalachian News-Express.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this. It’s just a wonderful thing.”