BRAMPTON, Ont.– Regular visitors to the Powerade Centre may be in for a surprise.
Starting in November, the 5,000 seat facility, one that boasts four NHL-sized hockey rinks, will play host to a professional basketball team.
At a press conference in their home-to-be on Wednesday, the Brampton A’s were unveiled as the 10th team to join the National Basketball League of Canada.
“We always knew this would happen,” said league President and CEO Andre Levingston in a one-on-one interview, from the restaurant overlooking where the A’s will play.
“It wasn’t a matter of if, but just when (we would place a team here) and you couldn’t ask for a better ownership group to come into this market. They are going to do some really special things and I’m sure they are going to make this city very proud.”
Newly appointed General Manager and Coach David Magley, who stands at 6-8, was a high school All-American in Indiana and appeared in 14 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1982-83 season after being drafted in the second round.
He also believes Brampton is a good fit for basketball.
“This market was chosen specifically because of its diversity,” he said to the media gathering. “There are not many markets in the world quite like this place.
“When you look at all the different cultures that are represented, all of the different ethnic and faith-based organizations in this community, we thought that’s just a critical place. Basketball is an international sport, played in every continent, in most countries and has grown at a record pace, so we thought what a great place to be.”
Levingston, who also owns the Halifax Rainmen of the NBLC, was instrumental in starting up the country’s first professional basketball league two years ago.
“I always knew that basketball could be successful in Canada, and it was a situation where you could say I took a risk,” he said.
“But I never looked at it that way, it was just a matter of we have to get the right people involved with us to achieve what we want to achieve and we’ve been successful in doing that, in bringing on ownership groups that are as passionate about the game of basketball and developing kids in this country.”
Along those lines, Levingston says the A’s are in good hands with James Tipping of the Orangeville-based Athlete Institute, who will own and operate the team.
“That was one of our things when we made the decision to do this (form the NBLC), we only wanted owners that had deep pockets because we know that it takes time to build this business,” he said.
“It’s not a get-rich over-night type of business, it’s not intended to be that.
“So we are looking for those who can sustain professional basketball over the long haul and we’ve been very successful in bringing in the right type of owners to be involved in this game.”
This is the first foray into team ownership for the Athlete Institute, which also happens to be the official training centre for the NBLC.
According to Frank Mart, an NBLC freelance journalist, the average attendance at the midway point of the 2012-13 season was 1495, a dip of nearly 500 hundred spectators from the inaugural campaign of 2011-12.
Magley indicated that the team intends to engage in promotional events such as basketball camps and clinics for youth prior to home games.
While he understands the importance of having an entertaining product, Magley and the ownership group see community involvement as a key component to success.
“We want to be involved in the community and that’s how we look at it, said Magley.
“I don’t think we put pen to paper to come up with numbers of we need this much attendance to be considered a success.
“We believe if we do it right, we are going to have those things– the success on the court as well. We’re going to do it the right way and build something that can stand the test of time.
“We’re no here as an experiment. We’re here for the long haul so we are coming in to impact the community in the right way.”
The NBLC players are mainly from North American colleges and universities, with Tipping adding that the average age is between 22 and 35.
Prominent Canadian national team players Jermaine Anderson and Jevohn Shepherd have suited up in the NBLC and Josiah Turner, who had stints with the Rainmen and the Summerside Storm this season, has declared for the NBA draft in June.
The St. John Mill Rats, Moncton Miracles, Montreal Jazz, Mississauga Power, who relocated from Oshawa for the upcoming season, Windsor Express, the reigning champion London Lightning, and the expansion Ottawa SkyHawks are the other outfits in the two-division, 10-team league.
The next step for the A’s, who will join the Central Division, is to assemble a roster for the upcoming season, but ahead of that Magley, who coached at the high school level in the United States after his playing career, has already determined a style of play.
“We’re going to run, we’re going to score a lot of points and have a lot of fun,” he said after the formal announcement.
“We might not win, but more importantly we are going to be entertaining.”