It's being dubbed the "Pennsylvania Project."

Twenty-four expansion professional basketball teams are being planned, all in the state of Pennsylvania. They will be part of the American Basketball Association. The ambitious project is being spearheaded by Harrisburg residents, and first-time pro team owners, David Stewart and his wife, Sharonda Stewart.

"It's to bring back hope and let people know they still have the ability to reach their dream," David Stewart said. "With hard work we can provide the avenue to still make some dreams a reality."

The project was announced last month, with the intentions of having the Pennsylvania teams begin competition in the 2013-2014 season. And it already includes plans to place a franchise in York. The team will be called the Hornets. Sam Sutton, a former York High basketball standout who went on to play college ball at St. Francis and Towson, has been named the Hornets' general manager.

It hasn't yet been determined where the Hornets will play. Sutton, who will be responsible for hiring a head coach and finding a home gym for the Hornets, and Stewart said they'd prefer to have the Hornets' 15-20 home games be held at York High's gymnasium.


"The pricing (of tickets) will be similar to high school games," Stewart said. "We'll do a good push next season giving out a lot of tickets just to get the fans in the stands. All of our teams will be community-based, they'll be active in their local markets."

The current ABA shouldn't be confused with the original league that flourished from 1967 to 1976, and included players such as Julius Irving, George Gerving and Moses Malone. The ABA restarted in 2000 and now has more than 50 semi-pro teams across the nation scheduled to compete this season. The teams are mostly filled with athletes who previously played in college and some who have seen time in the pros, whether it be in the NBA or overseas.

"I would love for this team to be able to open the door for some guys to get pro jobs either in the United States or overseas," Sutton said.

Stewart said each Pennsylvania team will play more than 30 regular-season games, competing against each other and other ABA teams across the country. He's still unsure of how much players will make. Planned franchises include teams in Allentown, Bethlehem, Carlisle, Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading and State College, among others.

All 24 Pennsylvania teams will be owned by Height Athletics, an athletics firm based in Harrisburg. Stewart, the co-founder and CEO of Height Athletics, said he's unsure how many jobs each team will generate. But he's hoping each team can gain a local following.

"There's really no major basketball teams in the state outside the (Philadelphia) 76ers and the D-League team up in Erie," Stewart said. "Pennsylvania is a market that breeds athletes, especially in Central Pa., and even Western Pa. We believe the right model can be successful."

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