Ottawa

Ottawa Blackjacks to leap into action next spring

CEBL takes another gamble on pro basketball in the capital

Posted: November 20, 2019
Last Updated: November 20, 2019

CEBL commissioner Mike Morreale holds up a shirt with the Ottawa Blackjacks logo Nov. 20, 2019. (CBC)

The Ottawa Blackjacks will leap into action at TD Place when they join the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) next spring.

The league unveiled the name and logo of the city's latest professional basketball franchise during a news conference Wednesday morning.

"Ottawa serves as a great next step for us," said commissioner Mike Morreale, referring to the Ottawa-Gatineau area's university and minor basketball scene. "This is an area ripe with talent."

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He said the name is aimed at younger fans who will bring their parents and family to the games. The team's logo is a charging jackrabbit in colours mirroring those of the Ottawa Redblacks, Senators and 67's.

Ottawa's new pro basketball team is named the Blackjacks, with a colour scheme similar to many of its other teams. (CEBL)

There are six other teams in the CEBL: three in Ontario and one each in Saskatchewan — home of the champion Rattlers — Alberta and B.C.

According to league rules, their 10-player rosters must feature seven Canadians.

The Blackjacks can officially start signing players as of Feb. 1.

One draw for prospects is that they can earn up to $1,500 per game between May and August, a period during which other professional and university leagues are on hiatus, Morreale said.

The Blackjacks are working to find a coach, general manager and other staff.

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Mike Morreale, commissioner of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, says the new Ottawa Blackjacks will take to the court in May next year.   0:53

The league's 2020 schedule is coming next week, but Morreale confirmed the Blackjacks will play their first game May 14.

A season ticket deposit campaign is underway on the team's new website.

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Ottawa is getting a pro basketball team but will the sport be a slam dunk in a beleagured sports town? We talk to the league's commissioner about Ottawa's new team.  10:00

Ottawa Tomahawks — quickly rebranded the Skyhawks following backlash from Indigenous people — arrived in February 2013 and played just one season before being kicked out of the National Basketball League of Canada the following summer.

That eight-team league still exists.

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"I don't think they played in the proper venue. I'm not sure they were supported properly from a front office perspective," Morreale said when asked about the team's stability in a market that's just seen the Fury soccer team and Champions baseball team bow out.

He said he's confident the team can draw at least 2,000 fans a game, which will mostly be on Thursdays and Sundays.

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