Grizzlies pushing to expand fan base past Memphis

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm •  Published: October 1, 2013
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Joerger, hired in late June to take over the Grizzlies, said holding training camp away from Memphis gives the new coaching staff and the rest of the team time to get to know each other better. The extra benefit is luring more fans.

"I hope that people are interested in watching us on TV or coming over to I think one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA and certainly a beautiful arena," Joerger said after running his first practice as head coach. "Anytime we can get people over there, we love that."

The Grizzlies have been tracking ticket sales in Middle Tennessee, and Levien said those are up along with some sponsorships. The interest is growing in Arkansas as well. The Grizzlies had a few games televised in Little Rock last season, and Levien said they will have a lot more televised in that market this season.

"It is just demand, and the networks are seeing that and they want to get that for their fans and their viewers," Levien said.

The Grizzlies also open the preseason Oct. 7 playing the Chicago Bulls in St. Louis, a town that was their second stop on last month's fan caravan. St. Louis has an NFL team, the Cardinals and the NHL's Blues but no NBA team.

This is the first time the Grizzlies have spent this much time in Nashville. They went to Birmingham, Ala., in 2009 for training camp, and the Grizzlies have spent some training camp in Spain in 2003 and 2007 as part of the NBA's tours in Europe.

Guard Mike Conley likes seeing the Grizzlies move around a bit.

"It's good to see us travel, good to see another side of the state, another fan base outside the city of Memphis," Conley said.