League says Storm should decide on venue by May

Stephen Brun
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The Summerside Storm played their season's last home game in front of a sold-out crowd at Credit Union Place.

SUMMERSIDE - The National Basketball League of Canada would like the Summerside Storm to secure a place to play by May.

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."

 

sbrun@journalpioneer.com 

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada, Credit Union Place, Charlottetown Civic Centre board University of Laval

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Charlottetown, Canada

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  • Josh
    April 05, 2012 - 15:44

    Summerside had the 3rd highest attendance in the league in 2011/2012. There is NO reason to move them anywhere else. The people of Summerside have done their job, now it's up to ownership to do theirs. KEEP THE STORM IN SUMMERSIDE!

  • Greedy Council?
    April 05, 2012 - 09:07

    Everyone seems to be hard on the Storm owners fo rthis possible move.. I think the issue is the City of Summerside wanting too much from the team.. After all the work the Storm did in the community and establishing afan base it would be a real shame to lose them to Charlottetown.. David it may surprise you to hear that some people in this city actually prefer other sports to hockey.. shocking I know..

  • David
    March 29, 2012 - 16:50

    We have done fine to get people out to credit union place before the storm. The summerside storm stole a bunch of fans from the Western Capitals we are a hockey community and Basil knows this. Either way we will be fine if we loose the storm then we loose them if you really enjoy watching them and they move to charlottetown then they go if you enjoy them that much you would travel to see them there are people in charlottetown who come to summerside to watch the storm so why wouldnt you go to charlottetown?

  • Give us True Numbers
    March 29, 2012 - 11:51

    Everyone talks how many people go out to Storm games. Yet they never say how many of those Tix are given away for free.This choice will not be from Basil it will be from the owners looking at the $$. This is a business they need to make sure each year they are making a profit. Maybe a move to Charlottetown will improve corporate sponsership...who knows....but lets be honest with each other and lets look at true numbers and see how many true tickets were bought for the Storm and how many we free

  • Danny Gosse
    March 29, 2012 - 10:01

    I sure hope the powers that be wake up and smell the roses. This team has been a very good fit for our community. I would really hate to lose this team.

  • SAm
    March 29, 2012 - 07:19

    Just when Summerside get something that brings lots of people out to Credit Union Place the City wants to let it go. I have spoken to a number of season ticket holders like myself and many will not support the team if our City lets them go. Wake up Basil.

  • Ken
    March 28, 2012 - 21:44

    C'mon Summerside! We have to fight to keep the Storm! #GoStorm