Professional basketball hitting the hard-court in Red Deer?
The Canadian Basketball League is looking to set up franchises in western Canada and Alberta is seen as prime ground to build on according to Anthony Vella who represents Cosmos Sports, an Ontario-based marketing firm.
“We found through our feasibility study the greatest appetite for basketball was Manitoba west and so that’s been our focus,” said Vella.
The group has also worked closely with Paul Sir, the executive director of Basketball Alberta in order to gauge support for the potential league which would see between eight and 10 teams split into two divisions and meeting only in playoffs.
Edmonton and Calgary would be natural markets along with Vancouver but Sir says teams could just as easily be based in cities like Kelowna, Saskatoon and Red Deer for example.
Vella says the best way to describe the professional league would be comparing it to the CFL model with the focus on Canadian players and some imports.
“So you would have six to nine Canadian players per team,” said Vella.
Another feature of the proposed league would be a $150,000 annual salary cap which would be a league regulation.
CIS and American college players would stock the potential teams in the league with some players possibly coming back to Canada from playing overseas, said Vella.
Vella said their study indicated Red Deer is a good potential market with the support for the game solid and if the right group showed up and was willing to take on the market the CBL would be interested.
He says a venue like the Enmax Centrium would be a very good fit for the league based on their business study.
The business model suggests a franchise would need to draw about 4,000 fans per game based on 15 home dates.
“We’ve had initial discussions with NHL and CHL teams and other parties that are interested,” he said when talking about investors with solid financial footing.
To date there hasn’t been any commitment but Vella said a meeting for interested investors is happening in mid-July in Edmonton and it would be at that time a deposit would be put down to get the ball rolling for 2014.
“I know how fans support hockey in Red Deer, fans are passionate and if the right ownership group came out of Red Deer then it would be a great market for our league.”