The League sent out a press release today:
PBL Announces Halifax Rainmen Owner as Director of Business Development in CanadaJuly 29, 2009 – Premier Basketball League (PBL)
Chicago, IL…The Premier Basketball League announced today that President and CEO of the Halifax Rainmen, Andre Levingston has been appointed Director of Business Development for the league in Canada, effective immediately.
Levingston will head up the franchise expansion and team development north of the border. “Andre knows what it takes to get a team going in Canada, his experience and knowledge gained from the Rainmen’s success makes him a natural for this position,” said Tom Doyle CEO of the PBL. “Andre’s professionalism will lend well with growing our league through-out Canada.”
Plans to expand the league in Canada will become more active now that Levingston is heading up the effort.
“I’m extremely excited the league has appointed me to this position,” said Levingston. “This gives me the opportunity to assist in growing the PBL brand in Canada while giving other cities an opportunity to have professional basketball. This also gives our college athletes the opportunity to further develop their skills after college,” added Levingston.
I am curious about whether Andre or the Rainmen will receive any financial compensation for the owner’s time, but more to the point, I think it’s a good sign that the PBL is redoubling efforts to find new franchises in Canada. Hopefully my long standing claim that an ownership group in Moncton needs to be found for the well being of the Rainmen has not fallen on deaf ears.
Levingston is a natural salesman and his experience putting a team together from scratch makes him the ideal candidate for this kind of position, but I have to wonder how many legitimate markets there really are for minor league hoops in Canada.
- Moncton – ideal for travel reasons, an event city, but not even close to being a basketball hotbed.
- Montreal – dead market. Too many failures have just wrecked that market.
- Ottawa/Hull – Big population, popular university programs but dates for sporting events are tough to get due to the use of those spaces for conferences and the like. The city has been pursuing a second professional team for the last few years, but they may not view the PBL as big enough for them.
- Toronto – not buying minor league anything.
- Burlington? Mississauga? Hamilton? Potential markets, I suppose.
- Winnipeg? Flights only and well outside the footprint, but who knows what US teams will appear in the west in the coming years? There’s already rumours of a team in Vegas.
- Saskatoon? Regina? There have been minor league hoops teams in Sasketchewan before, but I just don’t know enough about the place to make a call on it.
- Calgary? Edmonton? Edmonton have an IBL team, but they’ve drawn about 300 a game for the last two years despite getting an impressive amount of media attention. Who knows if winter sports will do better? I feel like you’d need both Calgary and Edmonton on board to make any of the traveling work.
- Vancouver? Victoria? Burnaby/Richmond/Coquitlim? I can’t see the math working on flying into Vancouver for anyone unless a few teams on the pacific are added.
So as it stands I’d have to say that a Toronto suburb, Moncton and Ottawa are probably the best targets, but even then I think we’re three or more years away from seeing any real movement on this.