Below is the full Q&A I had Tuesday with LEA General Manager Xavier Villalon about the Nuevo Laredo Toros agreeing to play 11 games at the LEA this fall. The full story can be found in Wednesday’s edition of the Laredo Morning Times.
Q: Where are we exactly in the process of bringing the Toros to the LEA?
A: We basically just signed a formal letter of intent to proceed further into contract negotiation. We’re looking at the time frames and shooting for a start date sometime in September. We’re looking at having 11 games here in the arena.
From what has been presented to us I think the town will be pretty surprised by the quality and obviously this is a championship team so its good to see some real basketball here at the arena.
Q: How’s it feel to be bringing this level of professional basketball to the arena?
A: Anytime we do something new its exciting. Obviously, we’ll be setting up something (new and) we want to put our best foot forward and make the community respond to it the way we hope and anticipate they would. Going into this is something that’s exciting. Knowing you have an established team that’s already won a championship only makes it better. We’re hoping the community comes out and supports it.
Q: How long has this been in the works?
A: We’ve had discussions off and on for a while but I’d imagine the last couple of weeks really wrapped it up. Before, it was a moving target. We didn’t know… Obviously the floor discussion was something that was occurring, and that’s a totally separate thing, and when this discussion started occurring with the basketball team it just started steamrolling itself these last couple weeks into something more concrete and obviously we’re already at that point where we can start moving to the final negotiations of the contract and get that out of the way and work on a successful season.
Q: You say you’re shooting for a September start date, do you have an official first game date in mind yet for the first game?
A: We have tentative stuff written down, but obviously what we’re working on right now is getting the turnaround on the floor. We’re still in the process of that. Once we get that squared away, we’ll have a firm date of when that’s coming in we can start planning it out.
I would say in the near future. a lot of that depends on the manufacture of the floor. They understand the position we’re in and obviously it’s a good position for them. They have a good hard sell in front of them to move fast on. We should be expecting a good firm date on that soon. When? I’m expecting something locally within two weeks. Hopefully by the end of this week I can come back with some dates. All that’s kind of being revealed day by day.
Q: Are you ready to share pricing information for tickets and concessions yet?
A: The thing we’ve worked together on is any tenants here are price conscious. We’re on the same page from the very beginning, aggressive pricing and decent priced tickets for the quality of basketball.