The Edmonton Stingers won the 2020 CEBL Summer Series Championship. (Contributed)

Professional basketball league eyes Kelowna for possible expansion

The CEBL completed its 2020 season in a bubble format, being the first Canadian professional sports league to return amid COVID-19

The Canadian Elite Basketball League may give Kelowna basketball fans the slam dunk they’ve been looking for.

While most professional leagues are struggling to create revenue during the pandemic, the CEBL is looking to expand, taking a serious look at placing a team in Kelowna for the 2022 or 2023 season.

In just its second season of existence, the CEBL completed its 2020 season in a bubble format, being the first Canadian professional sports league to return and do it successfully amid COVID-19.

Now, with teams in Abbotsford, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Guelph, Hamilton, Ottawa, and St. Catharines, Ont., commissioner and CEO Mike Morreale said the league is eyeing Kelowna as the next city to join CEBL basketball.

“As far as the size of the actual city, it’s a little bit smaller than some of ours, but it does swell in the spring and summer months,” said Morreale.

“Because we’re a spring and summer league it affords us an opportunity to attract a larger customer base there.”

Morreale said Prospera Place would serve as Kelowna’s arena, noting the capacity is similar to the Abbotsford Centre, home of the Fraser Valley Bandits. Having both Kelowna and Fraser Valley in the same division would also make for a strong rivalry, according to Morreale.

READ MORE: Former Kelowna Rocket Leon Draisaitl named NHL’s best

In terms of a possible buyer for a Kelowna franchise, the league has had some interest, although it currently operates as single-entity ownership, controlling all the eight teams. According to Morreale, the league’s structure was done purposely to create a sustainable, successful business model.

“It would still be our preference to find a local ownership group, but it doesn’t preclude us from going out there first and then operating it and selling it later,” said Morreale.

The CEBL is considered tier 1 basketball by Basketball Canada and draws nearly 2,000 fans (when playing in front of fans) a night. The league serves as a developmental league for the NBA, paying its players anywhere from $500 to $1500 a game over a 20 game schedule.

Staying true to the country that encompasses the league, the CEBL ensures at least 70 per cent of its teams rosters are Canadian, a decision that helps showcase the country’s best talent.

“Some teams will play with all Canadian players,” said Morreale.

“The Saskatchewan Rattlers won in year one with all Canadians and Ottawa played an all Canadian roster this year. Our talent level, outside the NBA, this is the best basketball league in the country without a doubt.”

The Edmonton Stingers captured the 2020 CEBL Championship. You can catch Kelowna’s Grant Shepphard, alumni of Kelowna Secondary School, play for the Fraser Valley Bandits when the CEBL returns to play in the spring of 2021.

READ MORE: Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
Follow me on Twitter

basketball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The last forum before the election on Saturday focused on health care.
Boundary-Similkameen candidates talk health care over digital forum

The Support Our Health Care Society hosted the forum

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Voters are saying they felt safe voting in person despite the current pandemic. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Central Okanagan voters talk about their pandemic election experience

Despite an election taking place during COVID-19, residents said they felt safe voting in person

Efforts to replace the aging Rutland Middle School have been put off by another year by the ministry of education. (File photo)
Education ministry won’t replace Central Okanagan school anytime soon

New Westside Secondary top priority for ministry of education

Cole Collingwood casts his mock ballot at Vernon’s Mission Hill Elementary School ahead of the provincial election Oct. 24, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Okanagan students cast mock election ballots

At Mission Hill Elementary, the election is a chance to learn about the democratic process

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is planning to implement transit service in the West Bench area in September, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Regional district to bring transit service to West Bench in 2021

Residents of area near Penticton will be consulted before plans are finalized

Most Read