Group of investors announces creation of new professional basketball team in Halifax
Professional basketball will be returning to Halifax for another year.
There was a lot of anger and disappointment after the now bankrupt Halifax Rainmen walked away from the National Basketball League of Canada championship game back in April.
Many fans felt that was the end of professional basketball in the city, until a press conference was held Thursday morning.
“We are very pleased to be able to announce today that there will be an NBL team in Halifax this year,” says investor Don Mills.
Twenty five investors have collaborated to form the club.
The team's name has not been chosen, but it will not be the Rainmen or the Windjammers – the name of the city’s first pro-basketball team.
“It will be a new name, because we want a fresh start, we need a fresh start,” says Mills.
Former team owner Andre Levingston will now be the team’s general manager.
Levingston says he is already hunting for a coach and players.
“We have six protected players that had a lot of success last year that we're really excited about and I think they can continue to help us win here,” says Levingston.
“We would not be here today if it wasn't for Andre,” says Mills. “We believe in Andre, we're behind Andre, he's part of our group. He sacrificed everything for professional basketball in this city.”
Although it has not yet been confirmed, the new team is expected to play at the Scotiabank Centre.
The season won't begin until late December; the league says that's because of traditionally poor attendance records early on in the season. That gives management a chance to get their new team organized.
“Eight days ago we didn't have a company; today we actually have a company. In an hour, we're going to have a bank account,” says Mills.
After the drama surrounding last year’s championship, some wonder if the team can attract new fans while regaining the trust of old ones.
“I think we have to go out and personally invite them back. We have to recognize and acknowledge the hurt that was caused by that,” says David Magley, NBL commissioner.
The investors believe there's at least 40,000 basketball fans that are prepared to come to at least one game this year, averaging 2,000 fans a game.
All the players from last season's Rainmen team will have a chance to be reinstated in the league; however Magley says former Rainmen coach Pep Claros will not be welcomed back.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Matt Woodman