Moncton, Summerside join pro basketball league

Canada's newest professional basketball league has approved a new franchise in Moncton, boosting the number of Maritime teams to four.

Canada's newest professional basketball league has approved new franchises in Moncton, N.B., and Summerside, P.E.I., boosting the number of Maritime teams to four.

The National Basketball League confirmed Thursday that Moncton and Summerside have been accepted to begin play in the NBL Canada. The New Brunswick team will play at the Moncton Coliseum. Summerside will play out of Credit Union Place.

Andre Levingston, the league's president and chief executive officer, said the upstart league had been hoping to add Moncton to its roster of teams.

"Moncton is a city I’ve had my eye on for a long, long time now, and I’m absolutely thrilled that the franchise has finally come to fruition," Levingston said Thursday in a statement.

"Everyone knows what a great event city Moncton is, and we are confident that professional basketball will be no exception."

Levingston also owns the Halifax Rainmen franchise.

Moncton will have an immediate intra-provincial rivalry with the Saint John Mill Rats.

Hoping for 2,000 fans per game

Duncan Shaw, co-owner of the P.E.I. team, said they had good discussions with Charlottetown and Summerside, but in the end Credit Union Place was the best fit. It  already has a complete basketball court built for the 2009 Canada Games.

"Great facility, beautiful building, really well set up for basketball and the city was great to make it work for us," he said. "Everyone is very supportive ... and it really worked to go to Summerside."

The Summerside owners hope to get 2,000 fans to come out to each game in order to make a profit. Team names have not been announced for either franchise.

The NBL also has teams in Quebec and Oshawa and according to the league's website there is another team pending in London, Ont.

Steven Conville, the owner of the new Moncton franchise, said he is looking forward to the Maritime rivalry in the league.

"When I found out professional basketball was coming to Canada, I could only think of one thing: owning a franchise in this league in a city that will embrace this team as I would," Conville said in a statement.

The league was formed after some of the teams broke away from Premier Basketball League over concerns about the league's officiating.

NBL Canada is set to tip off in November with a 36-game regular season schedule ending in March.