Leo Rautins, Dave Smart interested in Ottawa basketball team

A trio of men, including former Canadian men's basketball team head coach Leo Rautins, Carleton University's men's head coach, Dave Smart, and local basketball promoter Tony House, are interested in bringing a new basketball team to Ottawa.

Ottawa basketball promoter Tony House says trio hopes to reincarnate pro ball in capital

Three men have expressed interest in reincarnating professional basketball in Ottawa after the SkyHawks were booted from the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) following just one season.

On Thursday, the NBLC announced the SkyHawks had not repaid the league after it granted the franchise a loan during the season.

The team also hadn’t secured a venue to play or more investors. Therefore, the board of governors voted eight to zero in favour of kicking the SkyHawks out of the league.

Tony House is leading a group of three men who hope to bring a basketball team back to Ottawa after the Ottawa SkyHawks were kicked out of the National Basketball League of Canada. (CBC)
In the wake of that news, a trio of men with decades of Canadian basketball experience quickly stepped forward: Carleton University men’s head coach Dave Smart, television analyst and former head coach of Canada’s men’s basketball team, Leo Rautins, and local basketball promoter Tony House.

"I think that this is a basketball community and I think the basketball community can support an NBL franchise," said House, who believes the Canadian Tire Centre was too large and too far from its key fan base.

SkyHawks minority owner Paula Deek admitted the Kanata arena was not the best location for a professional basketball team and she said the owners struggled to sell tickets.

Tony House: 'I've done my homework'

Deek added the team’s main demographic was youth and they required public transportation, which was difficult.

House said he was approached in the middle of last season to financially help the SkyHawks’ majority owner, Bytown Sports & Entertainment, Inc. He said that was not the best opportunity, but a new start would be a better plan.

"I think we could draw on a lot of our successes, both on and off the floor, in this community," House said.

"I’ve done my homework. I sort of have my pulse on the finger of the basketball community in this area and I feel confident with my group, we can do it."

House said the new team would have a different venue and focus on drafting more Canadian players.