New Canadian pro-basketball league planned
Three professional basketball teams that pulled out of a league in April are planning to set up a new Canadian league with teams in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
Plans to set up the National Basketball League of Canada were announced in Halifax on Thursday. The planned league is expected to have at least eight teams.
Andre Levingston and Ian McCarthy, who each own basketball franchises in the Maritimes, said they believe a new league could be successful.
"We're extremely excited to found a league that consists of committed, fiscally responsible owners who will operate their teams with the mandates of providing a high level of entertainment for fans and sponsors, and making a difference in their communities," said Levingston, the president and CEO of the Halifax Rainmen.
The Saint John Mill Rats, Halifax Rainmen and Quebec Kebs left the Premier Basketball League last month after complaints of unfair officiating and poor management.
The league is expected to include those three teams, as well as four teams in Ontario in London, Oshawa, Kingston, and Barrie. Another franchise is also being considered for Moncton.
The league has received letters of intent from ownership groups in those cities, while an official list of teams is expected at the end of June.
Levingston said during Thursday's news conference the idea for the league came from a desire to make basketball more accessible.
"Hockey is accessible. We haven't made basketball accessible here. Big companies invest to make sure that they kids in this country love hockey and then it's on the front of their minds of everybody in this country. Well, we need individuals to do that in basketball. This is not a business venture for me, it's a movement," said Levingston.
"It's the opportunity for us to leave something behind for a country that I feel is loaded with tremendous talent. All we need is individuals to step up and say, 'This can work here.' I have no doubt that professional basketball can be successful in this country."
McCarthy, the president and general manager of the Saint John Mill Rats, said the new league will be owned jointly by the member teams.
"All of the teams that will be in the league will own stock in the league. They will all have a representative on the board of directors, they will all vote in important business matters and important basketball matters," McCarthy told reporters.
"Our objective is not to grow this thing very, very fast, but to add correct ownership groups that are stable, solid, committed to the long term and understand that we're providing entertainment, we're providing resources and community initiatives not only in charity but in visiting schools and providing role models for kids."
McCarthy said there will be a mandate to have a certain number of Canadian players on each team and that number will be voted on by the member teams when the final roster of teams is announced.
He said one round of the draft will be dedicated to choosing players on Canadian Interuniversity Sport and Atlantic University Sport teams.