Commish Kawachi looks to future of bj-league

by Kaz Nagatsuka

The bj-league commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi has watched game after game in his league all year, and as the inaugural season successfully came to an end at the weekend with the playoffs, he has no regrets and lots of hopes for the future.

“There was a lot of meaning as far as our first season was concerned,” Kawachi said. “So many boosters got cooked, cheering for their own teams. When I looked the atmosphere of the arenas, I really felt that our effort paid off.”

The average attendance of the first regular season was 2,070. Each of six teams had 40 games.

Kawachi particularly liked the fact that so many young fans visited and felt the air.

“They were really releasing their stress and frustrations they got in their normal life,” he said. “I feel like, ‘If we hadn’t started this league, how would they have let their frustrations go?’ “

The bj-league has already announced that it will be organized with eight teams, two up from this season, in the 2006-07 season, with the addition of the Toyama Grouses and Takamatsu Red Arrows.

Kawachi said there are some 20 regions that have expressed a desire to have a team in their towns. It is certainly a good sign of the league’s future.

But meanwhile, Kawachi is not going to let in anyone who wants to join the bj-league.

“Most of the (20) regions are ones that just love basketball,” he said.

“But we want ballclubs that can have strong ties with their respective regions. I think that only about 30 percent of them can realistically run as firm basketball organizations.”