© Stephen Brun/Journal Pioneer
The Summerside Storm played their season's last home game in front of a sold-out crowd at Credit Union Place.
Earlier this month, the basketball team wrapped up an inaugural season in Summerside that saw around 50,000 fans flock to Credit Union Place over the course of 18 home games.
Co-owners Duncan Shaw and Darren MacKay hoped to finalize a deal to return to the city by January, but those negotiations are ongoing. On March 14, Shaw said he has "backup plans" that include the possibility of moving the team to Charlottetown if talks with Summerside break down.
Andre Levingston, president and CEO of the NBL of Canada, said the owners are somewhat on the clock when it comes to finding a place to play basketball next season.
"We would hope that they can get things settled by the time we have our owners' meeting in May," said Levingston.
"Duncan and Darren will make the best decision for the league and for the team to be stable. They did a tremendous job this season, and I would think Summerside would want to roll out the red carpet for these guys."
Although the owners are keeping their options open for next season, Charlottetown Civic Centre board chair John Abbott recently said discussions with Shaw and MacKay haven't progressed to the point where any agreement is imminent.
When asked about the league's May timeline on Wednesday, Shaw said he didn't want to predict when any deal would be reached.
But the prospect of moving to another city after spending the year establishing the Storm in Summerside wouldn't be a desirable outcome for the team or the league.
"It's absolutely dreadful. (People) are purchasing season tickets again but, if we move to Charlottetown, they have to start that whole process all over again," said Shaw, adding that the team could still follow its business plan of breaking even next season, even if it has to move.
"It could still happen. We have a business model with a real high level of community engagement... and I think it's a good model. Would it be harder (to break even)? Yes."
Levingtson said a team changing venues between its first and second season isn't something a fledgling league like the NBL wants to see.
"You definitely want teams to have stability because it's not good for anyone if a team's moving from city to city," he said.
One of the league's other six teams finds itself in a similar situation for next season. The Quebec Kebs played the inaugural season at the University of Laval's gymnasium, but can't return there next year.
Levingston said the league gave the team one season to establish itself, but now has to solidify an agreement with the city to play in an arena in 2012-2013.
To date, Laval has not reached an arena deal with the Kebs.
"We need teams to play in professional venues with a lease deal that makes sense with their business model," he said. "If the city doesn't want to support them, we'll have to look at other cities that do."