Local basketball fans witnessed history in Newark on Sunday night as the Delaware 87ers took to the hardwood at the Bob Carpenter Center on the University of Delaware campus and played their first home game in franchise history.
The first-year franchise has approximately 10 to 12 people on its daily staff, from public relations to marketing, who are committed to providing the ultimate experience for its fans when they attend a Delaware 87ers basketball game.
“I think every time [the fans] come to a game, they can see a team put a great product on the floor — guys that play hard, literally, playing for their lunch money, every night,” Vice President of Customer Service and Box Office Operations Lawrence A. Meli said. “Aside from that, [we have] all the stuff off the court — the inflatables, the family fun zone that we have going on for kids that are coming down. We walk to our lobby you’re going to see a lot of things happening — different kinds of mascots walking around and local celebrities — it’s a lot for people to do.”
The team, which is owned and operated by the 76ers, remains devoted to building a franchise in the community.
“We are a part of the Sixers family,” 87ers president Aaron Moszer said. “I’m really impressed by how many fans came out tonight. I’m excited about the long-term from this organization, and we’re committed to Delaware and making this a great product for this community.”
The 87ers were founded in 2007 as a developmental team for the Utah Jazz, based in Orem, Utah, so making the transition across the country this offseason was a tremendous undertaking for the people in charge.
“[The biggest challenge] is building it from scratch,” Moszer said. “I mean like everything — from finding office space, hiring employees and building a relationship here right at the University of Delaware. So it’s been an exciting part of this organization, doing everything from the ground up.”
Prior to the game, 87ers head coach Rod Baker addressed the crowd via microphone and thanked the fans immensely for coming out and supporting the team despite the snowstorm assailing that area.
“We are extremely appreciative. Driving in weather like this can be a little ferocious, so you got to make sure you’re careful. But we are glad that people came out, it was our first night,” Meli said. “So, hopefully fans will come back.”
Meli said anyone who had tickets Sunday will be allowed to return for another game in the future.