St. John's Edge hoping to sell out franchise's first home game
Expansion team hoping for home court edge this weekend
The recently refurbished hardwood floor shines under the bright lights of Mile One Centre as the National Basketball League of Canada's newest team gets set to host the Niagara River Lions.
While the St. John's Edge were on the court Thursday to get in final preparations, front office staff was busy making sure everything is ready for the home opener on Friday night.
"There has been a lot of work put in by a lot of people over the last couple of months to get this all ready and [we're] just excited right now," said Trevor Murphy, the team's operations manager.
There has been lots of speculation about whether Newfoundland and Labrador is ready to welcome a professional basketball team.
With a capacity of 4,800 at Mile One, the arena is almost sold out for Friday night's opener.
"Ticket sales are outstanding," Murphy said. "That's a wonderful thing. A big accomplishment for us."
Perhaps the largest draw to gets fans in the stands is the man who will be wearing No. 23 when the Edge take the floor. Since signing with the team on Nov. 15, Carl English has ignited interest in the new club.
"It's very exciting," the Patrick's Cove basketball star said.
"A little bit nervous but that all comes with it. I've played in front of 20,000, 30,000 [fans] and I'm probably more nervous to play in front of family, friends and peers."
The 15-year professional basketball player has enjoyed success overseas and with Canada's national team, but it's been a long time since he played at home. In his first week with the Edge he was named the NBL's Central Player of the Week.
The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBLC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBLC</a> is pleased to announce that <a href="https://twitter.com/FreemanOptimist?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FreemanOptimist</a> of the <a href="https://twitter.com/sjriptide?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sjriptide</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/cenglish23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cenglish23</a> of the <a href="https://twitter.com/stjohnsedge?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@stjohnsedge</a> have been named Players of the Week! Details here: <a href="https://t.co/kYlCwARqGj">https://t.co/kYlCwARqGj</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AllOne?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AllOne</a> <a href="https://t.co/mq8Zk33lH7">pic.twitter.com/mq8Zk33lH7</a>—@NBLCanada
Personal accolades aside, English just wants the Edge to improve on their 3-2 record.
"The team is excited and I know there is a lot of buzz around the team right now and out in the community. I told [my teammates] that it's almost sold out so they are very excited," English said.
"So we are just working hard and hopefully we can get a couple of wins now over the weekend."
English won't be the only homegrown talent sitting on the bench. St. John's basketball player Noel Moffatt has agreed to join the team as a sort-of 13th man. He helps out in practice, but won't dress for the game.
"It was hard to cut him, hard to let him go," head coach Jeff Dunlap said.
"I said, 'If you wanna be part of the program, practice, maybe learn the other side of the program and be kind of a coach-slash-player on the floor,' that was an olive branch that we would extend to him."
Moffatt accepted which means he will be on the bench when the team plays at home, something Dunlap thinks will be well-received by the hometown crowd.
After five games on the road the Edge will be at home for the next four — a much welcomed home stand for English and his new teammates.