SUMMERSIDE - The legacy left by the recent Canada Summer Games is already paying dividends for the city of Summerside.
Summerside played host to a portion of basketball competition during the 2009 Canada Games and part of the legacy of that event is a professional calibre basketball floor for Credit Union Place.
The Games basketball floor was an integral part in the city’s ability to attract the world famous Harlem Globetrotters for a successful event.
This same hardwood floor is the reason the city is the frontrunner in getting a Canadian National Basketball League franchise.
Duncan Shaw and Darren MacKay, co-owners of the P.E.I. NBL franchise, are in negotiations for a venue for the new team when the season begins in October.
Both Summerside and Charlottetown were bidding to host the team and a proposal by the ownership suggested the games be split between Charlottetown Civic Centre and Credit Union Place. Charlottetown declined the offer.
NBL president, Andre Levingston, said last week no deals have been signed, but the new team is looking to Summerside as its home.
“All signs point to games being played out of Summerside and that they will not be playing this season out of Charlottetown,” Levingston said. “Summerside, like all of our teams right now, are waiting for their lease agreements to be signed off by their lawyers or their ownership groups to sign as well before submitting them to the league.
“From my understanding, negotiations have fallen through in Charlottetown and their ownership’s focus right now is Summerside,” said the league president.
Levingston expects a decision in the very near future.
Summerside’s Chief Administrative Officer Terry Murphy said the city has been in negotiations with the new franchise to at least bring part of its schedule to Credit Union Place.
He said the city is providing no financial backing for the team, just renting the venue.
“Basically, the city is recovering its costs,” he said. “It’s a straight rental that we’re into.”
Dave McGrath, manager of the Charlottetown Civic Centre, said negotiations are continuing with the NBL franchise. McGrath would like to see all 18 home games played at the Civic Centre, but admitted scheduling is a challenge.
The big advantage Credit Union Place has over the Civic Centre is the basketball floor provided through the Canada Games.
The Civic Centre doesn’t have one, and McGrath said with a price tag of about $150,000, the City of Charlottetown, and possibly the Province, would have to cover that expense.