Tagged: Andre Levingston

NBL news with Kingston, New Brunswick and Tokyo [not a typo]

Lots of news about the Kingston team. First was a funny thing from Saturday night. I work midnights and have Thursday/Fridays off. Which means I don’t read Saturday’s Whig Standard till Sunday usually.

I first thought I saw something that hadn’t made news yet. While downtown on Saturday night who do I see walk by of all people? Halifax Rainman owner and current president of the League, Andre Levingston. Since I had watched that CBC interview I linked to in a previous post I recognized him quickly.

If he’s in town things must be going well. Keep in mind I hadn’t read the Whig so in my head was ‘maybe no one else knows about this. If I had a scoop like that it would be ironic with my NBL blog posts’. Well, then I found out him being in town along with Sam Mitchell and Steven Conville [Kingston’s confirmed owner] was on the front page of the newspaper….. there goes my scoop. Oh well. Can’t win them all. However seeing him walk by is still quite funny considering everything. Odds of our paths crossing at the exact same time on a Saturday night in Kingston must be pretty low.

2 stories in the Whig last week. Steven Conville, who I mentioned before has been revealed as the Kingston owner. Quotes from last week’s story by Mike Koreen ‘Prospective basketball team owner comes this way’

“It’s a great bunch of people up in Kingston and I’ve really enjoyed talking to them. We’re making tremendous progress. The guys at the KRock Centre have been really good to us as far as coming to an understanding and the mayor has been exceptional.”

Conville originally planned to be an adviser for a potential ownership group, but now says he’ll be the main owner. He said he is working with several unpaid consultants.

“I wouldn’t say there are stumbling blocks,” Conville said. “Simply, the league is new, I am new, the mayor is new, the building is new, it’s just all of us coming together in a short period of time.”

“I think Kingston provides the best opportunity (for a new owner),” he said. “It’s a beautiful town and (the K-Rock Centre) is a beautiful facility. … It’s been a pleasure working with the people there.”

Then on Saturday on the front page was ‘Pro basketball talks become more serious’ by Jake Edmiston. Some excerpts from that.

On this particular visit, Conville had former Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell in tow. “He’s helping me show that I’m serious about my commitment to Kingston,” Conville said.

League president Andre Levingston also accompanied Conville to meetings with Mayor Mark Gerretsen and K-Rock Centre general manager Ken Noakes.

“We need to work out a lease that reflects the amount of revenue of a start-up pro basketball team in Canada,” Conville said, adding that he expects attendances between 1,000 and 2,000 fans per game in the inaugural season that’s set to start in October.

If Conville’s proposal is approved by council in the coming weeks, he said he’ll spend the rest of the summer launching an awareness campaign. He’ll need to have all details finalized by June 30, when the league plans to announce the final roster of teams.

“If council and I can get this approval in a timely fashion, I really look forward to having a community contest to name the team,” he said.

As I mentioned in a previous post Conville is an investmen adviser in Toronto who works with pro athletes and entertainers. Also in the article he said that hopefully he can leverage some of those relationships to help with the team.

In my earlier research I found something you wouldn’t see with other owners in Kingston. A picture of him with Ron Artest at a party. Article was in the Wall Street Journal of all places. From March of 2010, “Why Pro Athletes Love Toronto”.


Trying to imagine other local owners being in a photo with Artest, nope. Since it’s the NBA Finals I have to have Ron-Ron’s speech after winning in Game 7 last year. I saw this live on TV. Who else thanks their psychiatrist and plugs a CD after winning?

Meanwhile out east, Fredericton is talking about joining in 2012. As I had surmised earlier that any second team in New Brunswick would not be until 2012. Moncton was another possibility for another franchise in NB. With a team in Saint John probably best for them to get all the ducks in a row for next season.

From Bill Hunt at the Daily Gleaner in Frederiction a story on the weekend ‘New league Gauging interest in Fredericton’. A paper we used to get when I lived in Oromocto/CFB Gagetown. Small world.

New league Gauging interest in Fredericton


Kelly Lamrock is “bullish” on the idea of a Fredericton franchise in the soon-to-be-launched National Basketball League of Canada. He’s looking for some investors who share his vision.

Lamrock, the former Liberal MLA and provincial cabinet minister, says there are a group of 10 investors on board now and “we’re looking to double the size of that group,” with the idea of bringing minor professional basketball to the provincial capital in time for the 2012 season.

Still some chatting about Moncton trying to get in for this season. A group of Japanese and American investors are looking whether to apply for a franchise. An investors meeting in Tokyo is looking at Kitchener or Moncton. Which at first does sound like out of left field. What connection would New Brunswick and Japan have? From the Telegraph Journal’s Randy O’Donnell ‘Moncton’s Japanese pro hoops connection’


Among those attending will be Masaki Hitosugi, the businessman instrumental in a Japanese all-star team playing an exhibition contest in Saint John April 24.

The game, featuring the Saint John Mill Rats and Japanese pro league players, raised money for tsunami relief in the Sendai region.

It was during that weekend that initial discussion occurred between Hitosugi, Miller and representatives of the NBL’s founding franchises.

Didn’t think I’d be talking about Tokyo and the NBL but there you have it. Now a local person in Moncton said he’s more optimistic for a 2012-13 start for them. I’d agree with that. Seeing as here in Kingston we just saw more tangible evidence with the owner and NBL president in town. If they are discussing it in Tokyo right now I’m not sure there is enough time to start before the 2011 season. Now, on their side of starting quickly is the established franchise in Saint John. Much easier when a successful team is less than 2 hours away.

From the NBL Canada twitter account they said the owner’s meeting is shortly after June 15th. Details will be finalized and the schedule made. That Moncton article speculated about a 30 game regular season starting in November with pre-season in October. With playoffs wrapping up in March. Again that could be true, or not.


NBL Canada and AHL talk

Usually a blog entry doesn’t get out of date too quickly, unless it was the last one. Mostly for the AHL rumours that came out of nowhere. Manitoba Moose moving to St. John’s, Newfoundland? A puzzling choice if you read the last post and the problems that causes the Baby Leafs to leave the province. No AHL team east of Ontario right now. Then I heard who was interested in buying the team, Danny Williams.

Now most people just know Danny as the former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. His nickname before was ‘Danny Millions’ for good reason. Did quite well in business. Owned Cable Atlantic and sold that off in the early 2000s. Telecommunications part went for $76 Million and the Cable TV part for $152 Million. Add the law practice he also sold around the same time and reports I’ve read put his net worth north of $200 Million, give or take. He was also on the board of directors for the St. John’s Maple Leafs so he’s not new to hockey.

Still, with a team in St. John’s and no team nearby you are on an island in more ways than one. Which is why Danny was talking about a subsidy from the Newfoundland government. King Danny [as I used to call him on Twitter] might’ve wanted to be nicer to the government people after he left. Hasn’t gone smoothly. Basis of it I’m not sure about. A few months ago the provincial Conservatives had a dinner in his honour. One problem, Danny didn’t show up. Bit of a problem.

Here we are with him now asking for a subsidy. Now I didn’tt see governments giving that to professional teams at all. But they shot it down even more quickly than I thought. Quick with a captial Q. The subsidy speculation was over the weekend, government shot it down on the 25th. Not often does government move that quickly on anything.

…said in a statement to NTV News that he was “deeply disappointed” with the government’s decision. Williams said a subsidy was a “critical part” of bringing a team to St. John’s.

We will see how this goes. Could it work? Maybe. Although just look at what the NBL teams have done. Started an all Canadian league which will help reduce travel costs. Having a hockey team in St. John’s is going to be expensive. Closest team is Portland, Maine. Toronto is the nearest Canadian city in the AHL. That is a hard travel schedule. It is not something that is happening by October. Talk about 1 or 2 years down the road, if it were to happen at all.

With the wacky hockey update out of the way. Some updates with NBL Canada, fun one from Twitter of all things. Shomari Williams, a defensive end with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and I were discussing the NBL late Sunday night. He was interested in details on teams. You might be wondering how we know each other. Found him on Twitter the summer before he transferred to Queen’s.  Found out we both were Redskins fans and kept in touch a bit on Twitter. Shomari won a Vanier Cup with them and then drafted 1st overall by the Roughriders. Played in the Grey Cup in his 1st season. On the business side, anyone who has a picture on his website with Warren Buffett knows more than I do.


“Shomari Williams the President received his BBA in Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston in 2009, he also has a minor in marketing and a Certificate in Professional Selling.”

So we were discussing how much the teams might be going for, the salary cap, that sort of thing. Things I’ve pieced together from articles. A story in Metro Halifax, quoted the same source I did.

“The Kingston Whig-Standard reports that NBL Canada’s franchise fee is “six figures,” while operating costs are pegged at $1 million per year.”

Now I will go to the exact quote from The Whig Standard from the previous week.

“The league’s interim chief operating officer, Ian McCarthy, said owners must be prepared to cover up to $1 million in annual operating costs and an expansion fee that includes stock in the league. McCarthy wouldn’t specify the fee, but said it’s six figures.”

After the 1st blog I might as well go deeper into it about the Kingston team. No limit for length here. The letter of intent, from the Whig Standard again.

“National Basketball League of Canada officials said Steven Conville, an investment adviser to professional athletes and entertainers, signed the letter. However, Conville said he’s only a spokesperson for three prospective owners who will not release their names until the application process is completed.”

Years ago research would have taken days or weeks. Now it’s so simple. Mr. Conville is the Vice President, Portfolio Manager, Investment Advisor at Macquarie Private Wealth in Toronto. Also found his Twitter page. Yes, another person on Twitter. I joined up in 2008 which seems like ancient times.


“Skillfully help individuals to preserve & grow their capital. Built & managed several top-performing brokerage offices. A specialist in sports & entertainment.”

So we are waiting to find out what the teams are, and who might be the people behind the Kingston one. Haven’t found anyone even hazard a guess on who it might be.  Deposit cheques are due this week. Latest news is from Halifax and Moncton newspapers.

Saturday the Chronicle Herald had some more details. Full franchise fees due on June 15th and salary cap near or a bit higher to $150,000. Regular season length to be determined, sounding like 30 or a bit more. Rainment owner, Andre Levingston: “We’ll have a discussion. It could be a few more games but we don’t really see it in anything less than 30 games.” Teams announced on June 30th.

Right now Levingston and Ian McCarthy [Saint John Mill Rats] are in charge for the time being. Once teams are announced and things settle down a full-time commissioner and a director of league operations will  be hired.

Metro pretty much summed up their story in the headline part.

Moncton has three weeks to get owners on board for NBL
Four Ontario teams expected to move forward
Ownership groups from Ottawa and Kitchener have also had talks with NBL Canada about the possibility of establishing a franchise.

From what I have gathered, being in Ontario and just reading things online, Moncton sounds more likely for a 2012-13 season at this point. League has spoken with the Moncton Coliseum about the details of a possible lease arrangement. Moncton wasn’t one of the teams with a letter of intent, and no formal ownership group from my researching a few stories. Which explains my 2012 reasoning.

The Ottawa/Kitchener sentence, isn’t given any more details in the article. So I’m betting that’s a discussion for a year or two down the road.

That’s all the news I’ve found lately.  Here are a couple of links.


NBL founders await deposit cheques



NBL Canada

News last week of an all Canadian basketball league starting up. Glad to hear. Fact a couple of the people starting is from the Maritimes is nice for me to see. Andre Levingston of the Halifax Rainmen, Ian McCarthy of the Saint John Mill Rats and Vincent Bernier of the Quebec Kebs. Seeing as this blog started as one with my radio show on East Coast Music.

Now I was born in Newfoundland, then my Dad joined the army so moved around a lot. I did spend 4 years at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick. During the heyday of AHL hockey in Atlantic Canada. A league with players looking to move up to the NHL, and players also just making a living at the AHL level. Late 1980’s/early 1990’s AHL out east was big. They had Fredericton Canadiens, Saint John Flames, Cape Breton Oilers, St. John’s Maple Leafs, Moncton Hawks, Halifax Citadels, PEI Senators among them.

Was quite a good time to live there as a sports fan. Cape Breton won a Calder Cup and Fredericton got to a finals. Over the years it ended up that all the teams from the Maritimes left. Only leaving St. John’s as a franchise in Atlantic Canada. Which as a Newfoundlander I knew wasn’t going to last long. When you are the only team east of Quebec just for traveling alone it doesn’t make sense for the Maple Leafs to have their farm team all alone on the Rock.

Reason the teams left was complicated. One reason is something the NBL doesn’t have to worry about. Having a team above you in charge of your roster. For example, the Edmonton Oilers having a farm team in Cape Breton was something that ate up a lot of funds. Calling someone up, or moving a guy down in the middle of the winter across the country is tough. Especially in the 90s when Canadian teams were struggling financially. Dominoe effect started once 1 or 2 teams left. Travel costs going higher without teams within an easy travel distance. Which then cost more money for everyone.

Roster thing also hurt in another way. Some teams would call up AHL guys to the big club right as playoffs began. If they were contibuting that would be one thing. But too many times they were just used as back up. Idea of having a player not dressing for an NHL playoff series instead of getting ice time in an AHL playoffs was one that fans did not understand. Also hurt attendance in some markets. If you follow a team all of the regular season then have the rug pulled out from under you, as a fan why would you come back?

Back to the NBL. As pointed out Canada is the only Top 40 country FIBA ranking without a domestic league. So I’m glad we would have one now. Idea so far is one that solves the traveling problem the AHL had. As of now they are planning some teams in Ontario along with the 3 teams who left the Premier Basketball League [Saint John, Quebec and Halifax]. Another in Moncton could happen. So if you are Saint John/Halifax/Moncton you can fly to Ontario and play a few teams at once. Vice versa a team in Kingston could fly to Moncton, as an example, and bus it to 3 teams on one trip.

With working on Queen’s sports broadcasts I know that’s what they try to do for University sports. Basketball team from Toronto on a road trip will visit Queen’s, Ottawa and Carleton. You don’t want Toronto taking a bus to Kingston one week or then Ottawa the next, if you can help it. Doesn’t make financial sense.

Official word on which teams will play in the fall hasn’t been announced. They have said which ones have letters of intent. So far they are picking good markets like Kingston and London. Both have university towns with good sports programs. Last year you might recall a brand new gym for the basketball program opened up. CBC even had a national broadcast one Saturday afternoon from the facility.

As for the Queen’s hockey team. Not so lucky. Jock Harty Arena was torn down a couple of years back and not replaced. So the hockey teams have to practice and play at the Memorial Centre which was built in 1950. Does show that basketball fans are in the area since they have a new facility while the hockey teams have been nomadic for a few seasons. Story I heard on Offsides with Tyler King on CFRC about 6am practices for example since the M-Centre is a public facitily and that’s the only time they could get. Hopefully that is not the long term case, but it might be.

Talking to a guy who is a casual sports fan he said ‘I’d say more people in Kingston would want to go to a basketball game as opposed to hockey’. Part of that is the Kingston Frontenacs years of struggles, which has translated to bad attendance. Also we have so much hockey in town. Frontenacs, Voyageurs and Queen’s [Men’s and Women’s]. The Vees have a great fanbase in the West End, Queen’s turnout with an arena not on campus is quite low.

As for me as a basketball fan. Watched quite a bit in the Jordan-era. March Madness is always something to follow. Over the years I watched less NBA/NHL and more NFL. Also following university. Until this past year. I started watching more Raptors games this season, I’m aware this wasn’t the best year to choose.

With my use of social media and Twitter especially I’ve found a lot of basketball fans. Also basketball media people who use it a lot. Kat from the RaptorSpace show for example. Found out she was also with the Raptors Dance Pak along with others in the group. I follow almost 500 people so it’s good to have a good cross section. So while I’m online while hosting the radio show on Friday night I started to come home and watch the 2nd half of the Raptors games. When a lot of people are talking about a game that night it makes you want to watch.

Kat pointed out Annalise from the group was from Nova Scotia so started following her. She told me about a musician friend who I played on my radio show. Stuff like that helps the connection between fans and a team. [We’ll ignore the fact most people don’t have a radio show to play music on]

Ended up I even watched the Raptors-Heat game that ended the season. Taped it on the PVR, since I work midnights. Thought it would be Chris Bosh vs Toronto. Then realized the Heat’s playoff spot couldn’t move up or down. So they rested the starters. Yet, I still watched the entire game. Thought I might see a victory with LeBron/Wade/Bosh out. Nope. Lost 97-79. Very close game for 3 quarters though. You wouldn’t know if you hadn’t watched.

Also glad to see NBL starting off slowly, too many leagues try and get too many teams at once. Better to have strong teams first then add down the line. Major League Soccer for example. I didn’t think after the 1994 World Cup that MLS would be around 5 years later let alone 15. Similar structure to MLS in that the NBL will be owned by its member teams. Different way of thinking when MLS started but it has worked out well. Less in-fighting. Now MLS is in Toronto/Vancouver and has a TV deal with TSN.

When it comes to Canadian players there will be a quota for each team, which helps the CFL in the eyes of their fans. The timing of the fall will be good for one big reason, no NBA basketball. A lockout is coming to that league too. Not a question of ‘IF’ there will be a lockout just how long it will be. Owners looking to have a ‘hard salary cap’ and a much lower amount than the current system. If you have TSN and Sportsnet’s multiple feeds you know how much NBA is on them. NHL lockout gave us the rise in poker programming, which is something I don’t watch on sports channels. I have to draw the line somewhere. It is a spot for some NBL games to be shown. Halifax Rainmen and Saint John Mill Rats have their games aired on Rogers TV so the set-up is there.

Kingston is a TVCogeco market which does Frontenac games along with Queen’s Football and other sports from time to time. I volunteered there when I moved to Kingston before doing my CFRC volunteer gig. Good to have a place in town to show games.

For more reading check out the following stories and a TV interview with Andre Levingston from CBC Martitimes. Runs almost 22 minutes.

Hoop owners got it right this time http://thechronicleherald.ca/Sports/1243145.html

Rainmen’s new league takes flight http://www.metronews.ca/halifax/sports/article/858480–rainmen-s-new-league-takes-flight

Alex J Walling http://www.tsn.ca/columnists/alex_walling/?id=365599

Canadian hoops league a slam dunk http://www.torontosun.com/2011/05/12/canadian-hoops-league-a-slam-dunk

Quebec Kebs help form new National Basketball League of Canada

Mill Rats join select crowd in Canadian pro hoops loop

National hoops loop announced

Raptors HQ

Andre Levingston interview, runs about 22 minutes. CBC Maritimes

Fredericton group exploring new hoop loop

Professional basketball just might work well in Moncton

Good luck to the Kingston team, if they start this fall. As locals know the city government has been dealing with K-Rock Centre shortfalls. A new tenant is much better than the building sitting empty, which I’ve seen quite a few times.  Someone else at work this week asked if there was anything else in the paper about the basketball team.

As for the previous blogs posts looks like Natalie Thomas from The Weather Network has the advantage in the NHL Playoff Picks against me.  Since she played Division I Basketball for Appalachian State she will like this basketball news too.  Like me she’s working the long weekend so check her out on TWN.  Hopefully where you live will have less rain than we’ve had here.

Live radio show tonight as usual.  Next week the plan is to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the program with an interview.  As to with who I’ll mention that on the show tonight.  Someone I’ve spoken too before.  That time I got a lot of messages and comments about it.  On the weekend I’ll blog about who it is.

Enjoy the long weekend, if you have it off.