nb-millrats

The Manchester Millrats will be in Saint John in December for the start of the next season.

A professional basketball league team will officially be moving to New Brunswick next season.

The Manchester Millrats will move to Saint John from Manchester, N.H., for the start of the next season in December.

Premier Basketball League organizers were on hand at Harbour Station on Monday to announce details of the move, including a contest to rename the team.

"People have been very vocal that they'd like to see the name changed," said the team's general manager, Ian McCarthy. He said Millrats will be one of the choices in the contest.

Organizers are hoping for sell-out crowds for the new team, but McCarthy said a more realistic goal is closer to 2,000 fans a game.

He said he's hoping to attract more than just die-hard basketball enthusiasts.

"We like to say when they come to a game they'll come back, because they'll realize it's a blast, it's a fun time, they're seeing players up close."

Negotiations to bring the team to Saint John have been going on for several weeks, as the league worked out the details of a one-year lease agreement with officials at Harbour Station arena.

Members of the basketball franchise spent time in Saint John recently to see if there was enough demand to support another sports team. The Saint John Sea Dogs play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. 

Harbour Station, a 6,600-seat arena, would be among the largest in the league, in which teams play 20 regular season games.

The Manchester Millrats are a part of the eight-team professional men's basketball league, which includes teams from Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico.

Most of the players in the professional league come from U.S. Division One schools or other professional leagues.

Teams in the league include the Quebec Kebs, Puerto Rico Capitanes, Vermont Frost Heaves, Lawton-Fort Sill Calvary and Halifax Rainmen.