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

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

Just Posted

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

BC Timber Sales near Revelstoke is one of two programs to be randomly audited this year. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke area BC Timber Sales to be randomly audited

The agency will be investigated by the Forest Practices Board during the week of June 21

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Goosebumps helped scare off predators

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 15, 2021

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu supported a motion in the B.C. legislature for Canada to create a national Indigenous History month Monday, June 13, 2021. (Contributed)
Canada needs a national Indigenous History Month, Vernon MLA agrees

Harwinder Sandhu supports motion to recognize June as month to advance reconciliation efforts with First Nations

(Facebook)
New trial date set for Penticton beach attacker’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

Most Read