Storm moving in... or out... or not?

Bob
Bob Gray
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Storm Warnings column

It's time for the annual second season for the Summerside Storm.

The first season consists of all those games and players and fans and excitement and stuff. That season ended last Thursday, when the London Lightning beat the Storm here in the last game of the National Basketball League of Canada's actual playing season.

Now for the real season - it started as soon as the final buzzer went on Thursday. It's the annual "Let's Move the Storm to Charlottetown" season.

This is the one that's fun, because there is a multitude of expertise on the subject, so there's no shortage of opinions. Everyone in Summerside has been to Charlottetown at some point in their lives, so they know a lot about their friends to the east.

And of course there are simply dozens of Charlottetonians who have made the harrowing journey to Summerside at least once in the course of their lifetimes, so they know everything there is to know about the western capital.

And then there are the many Island sports experts who (a) have seen one basketball game in their lives and (b) have heard that the arena in Summerside is kind of nice, at least for hockey. Trust me, they have an opinion on everything.

What's behind this annual season of wonderment and eventual vitriol? Surely it's altruistic, with everyone with an opinion (and that's everyone, with some very flexible people having five or six differing opinions) simply wanting to make sure that the Storm draws enough people to be viable. Sure.

This past season, many people thought the Storm would have drawn more people than they did, because they were both established and good. Their home record was way over .500 and they provided great entertainment every night. Yet attendance languished under 2,000 for most of the season.

So, if they move to Charlottetown, they would draw more? Maybe, but the barriers to that move are mighty.

Firstly, there's no place to play. The Charlottetown Civic Centre is a horrible place to watch a hockey game, and it would be even worse for basketball.

A major issue to relocating to the Civic Centre is that only Summerside has a basketball floor, with appropriate baskets and clocks and such. A new floor would cost at least $125,000. Charlottetown wouldn't buy Summerside's floor at a discount, because it has "Summerside" written all over it.

UPEI might be an option, but they have two university teams playing there already. And it's not big enough. There is seating for 1,500 in its present configuration, assuming that bums are the same size as they were in 1990 when the Sports Centre was built (they aren't).

Summerside has the greatest facility and basketball set-up in Atlantic Canada, and it would be crazy to move. Prince County has become a basketball hotbed in the last two years, and the fan base is growing more committed. When Omari Johnson's jump shot is the topic of heated conversation at a table of matronly women at Samuel's, as it was earlier this week, you know you've made an impact.

The Storm and Summerside are an unlikely, but successful, match. The Storm are good for Summerside, and Summerside is great for the Storm. Let's hope both the Storm and the city can put their respective self-interests aside and come to an agreement that's good for everyone.

  

Bob Gray is a freelance journalist with a long history of P.E.I. basketball reporting. He welcomes comments at bgray@pei.sympatico.ca, and can be followed on Twitter @bgray5.

Organizations: London Lightning, National Basketball League of Canada, Charlottetown Civic Centre Sports Centre

Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown, Atlantic Canada Prince

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Recent comments

  • Storm Fan Too
    April 19, 2013 - 13:16

    I would much rather watch the Storm play than watch hockey. Not everyone is into hockey. Although I'm no expert on basketball I am learning from attending Storm games. I would be interested to know how many attend the Moncton and Saint John games? I've heard they have around the same attendance records (2000) as Summerside and we've a much smaller city to draw from. I'd say that's pretty darn impressive and I think our attendance will only grow for the team and the sport.

  • s.side tax guy
    April 18, 2013 - 21:58

    If they stay good,but the city better not give them the farm. after all we are the tax guys. If a hockey or basketball team wants to play here the city should not haye to play for it.

  • capsfan
    April 18, 2013 - 20:02

    Show them the door and send them on their way, boring game, and the way the constantly complain about the CUP, no this, no jumboscreen, no that..... there is no pleasing them, all they want is a free place to play.

  • Joe
    April 18, 2013 - 15:52

    Bahaha this league is a joke... I am surprised anyone cares about these nameless jokers. The fact that I just found out that there was such a league as this is humourous. Enjoy fellow Islanders but your never going to draw us blue coller out.

  • Adam
    April 18, 2013 - 08:44

    Helen, I must agree with Bob regarding the facility.. I have attended the AUS/CIS finals there for years and while it is larger, it is also dated and simply not nearly as nice as CUP in my opinion..

  • Adam
    April 18, 2013 - 08:18

    This is a terrific article and I agree 100%. The best point made is using the Civic centre.. no disrespect intended but that facility is a dump, at least compared to Credit Union Place. As a basketball fan I was disappointed in most of the crowds this season but really don't think they would be much (if any) bigger in Charlottetown. Hockey is the first love for most Islanders and Charlottetown wasn't able to support a major junior hockey team. I fail to see how support for a basketball team would be any better. Another factor that likely affected the crowds was the success of the Sumemrside Caps. With them hosting the RBC Cup this year they have a stacked team and most people just can't afford to support 2 teams with much frequency. The Caps look to be much weaker next season so if the Storm stay and can put together a strong team again I think their numbers will grow. I'm also hopefully that those who finally came out for the playoff run may have gotten a taste for how good this product is and will come out to support it next season. It's only been 2 season but the Storm have roots growing in Summerside and I think it would be a mistake to rip them out and try starting all over again.

  • Helen Killorn
    April 18, 2013 - 08:10

    You have placed yourself into your sarcastic category of "there is a multitude of expertise on the subject, so there's no shortage of opinions" simply by stating that Summerside has the greatest facility and basketball set-up in Atlantic Canada. I agree on the fact that the Credit Union Place is a beautiful and welcoming facility, but a little more research would have led you to the Halifax Metro Centre, home of the Rainmen, where the AUS basketball championships have been held for years. And don't forget the Moncton Coliseum which is home to the Miracles. There's no saying whether or not the team will prevail more in Charlottetown than Summerside. To me, your opinion is quite biased. I would just hope that wherever the Storm ends up, the island will come together and stick by these amazing gentlemen as the league and our team continue to grow.

  • Brian Ramsay
    April 17, 2013 - 23:26

    Good article and it seems as if you have a great grasp on the relevant points. Excellent summary Bob.