Jason Conrad, co-owner of the new minor league basketball team coming to Salem, the Salem Capitals. (Courtesy/Jason Conrad)
Salem sports fans will soon have a new team to root for.
By next spring, a minor league basketball team called the Salem Capitals is slated join the roster of The Basketball League, a minor league basketball organization that started three years ago.
Jason Conrad, who will be the team’s co-owner and general manager, said that after retiring from a basketball career overseas he got a call from David Magley, the owner of The Basketball League. Magley wanted to introduce him to Salem resident Paul DuBose, who previously owned a league team in San Diego.
The pair signed a contract with the Salem Armory at 2310 17th St. N.E. earlier this month, where the games will be held.
While the team is still being assembled, Conrad’s vision is already emerging. His handiwork is in the logo: a blue ox to represent the Oregon Trail.
He said he has plans for a beer garden and food trucks to make attending a game an all-day event. He said tickets will be between $5 and $10 and companies will sponsor tickets for people who can’t afford them.
Next year, he said there should be 42 teams in the league, which started in 2018 with eight teams.
Conrad said he intends to have four or five guys on the team with overseas experience who have families and jobs, “but still want to play and they get to play in front of their hometown crowd.”
He said they’ll be the mentors for younger players on the team, all of whom will be paid.
Originally from the Bay Area, Conrad started playing basketball his freshman year of high school. He was 5 foot 8 inches the last day of eighth grade and grew to 6 foot 3 the first day of ninth grade.
“It’s funny because I was 5 foot 8 with size 17 feet so I either have to grow or I’m going to join the circus,” he joked.
He said he wasn’t good at the start, but by his sophomore year he was on varsity and sporting college interest his junior year. Four games into his senior year he shattered his ankle and was in a wheelchair for four months.
He signed on to play basketball with Portland State University in 2008 and his family moved to Oregon.
From 2013 to 2019, Conrad played basketball in countries like Taiwan, China, Australia and Canada.
Now that he’s retired from the game, he has plans to coach the team and move to Salem.
The 7-foot-tall Conrad has experience with the league after playing for the Yakima SunKings in Washington from 2018 to 2019.
Drawing on his experience majoring in art in college, he started an after-school art program at a local school there which ended up having 150 kids in it.
It’s the kind of community involvement Conrad hopes to the Capitals can bring to Salem.
Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]
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