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MINOT, N.D. - Minot will be getting a Continental Basketball Association team a year earlier than first announced, league officials say.

The CBA and San Jose Skyrockets announced Wednesday that the team would move to Minot for the 2007-08 season. The date was in error and the team actually will move before the upcoming season, Dennis Truax, director of operations for the CBA, said Thursday.

"I just got back from our league meetings yesterday, and (Skyrockets owners) have assured me they will be in Minot for this year," he said. "Opening night for the CBA will be Dec. 1 of this year."

Joe Clark, chief executive of San Diego-based Apex Sportstainment, which owns the Skyrockets, did not immediately return a telephone message Thursday seeking comment.

Scott Collins, manager of the Minot Municipal Auditorium, said Thursday afternoon that he had not yet been in contact with the Skyrockets since the team's announcement. But he said he has visited with team officials in the past and Clark had unsuccessfully tried to call him Wednesday night.

"I assume it's going to be a go," he said of the team's move. "There's communication, it's just a matter (of a formal deal)."

Collins said he expects team officials to be in Minot for about a week in mid-August.

Apex Sportstainment also owns new CBA teams in Butte and Great Falls, Mont., and says it is looking to build natural rivals in the Upper Midwest.

San Jose is moving to the CBA after playing in the American Basketball Association last season. Truax said the team will play a 48-game schedule, running from early December until mid-March.

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Clark said in a statement that he is excited about the fan base in Minot. Truax said he also believes the region has a large enough fan base to support a team.

"They were very successful back in the IBA days," he said, referring to the Magic City Snowbears, which played five seasons in the now-defunct International Basketball Association and folded in 2001. "We feel once the fans see the level (of competition) that we have … that they'll definitely come out and support it."

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman, who was the majority owner of the Snowbears, was less enthusiastic Wednesday night.

"(Minot) has got a good enough fan base, but when I've talked to (Skyrockets) owners, I've said, 'You're really borderline for population,"' he said.

Truax said the CBA is as strong as ever, despite the departure of four teams that moved to the NBA Development League earlier this year. The Sioux Falls Skyforce and Bismarck's Dakota Wizards, which had been CBA powers, were among them.

"We're presently at 10 teams. That's more than we had at any time," Truax said.

Sioux Falls and Dakota "were established teams, their success spoke for itself," Truax said. "But we're at 10 teams now … that shows that we're moving onward and have been successful in our expansion efforts."

The CBA had eight teams last season.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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