Tagged: halifax rainmen

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Usually a blog entry doesn’t get out of date too quickly, unless it was the last one.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.

http://www.studentblitz.com/aboutus.html

“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.

http://twitter.com/StevenConville

“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.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Sports/1244469.html

NBL founders await deposit cheques

METRO

http://www.metronews.ca/ottawa/sports/article/870172–moncton-has-three-weeks-to-get-owners-on-board-for-nbl

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
http://www.globalwinnipeg.com/Quebec+Kebs+help+form+National+Basketball+League+Canada/4773924/story.html

Mill Rats join select crowd in Canadian pro hoops loop
http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/sports/article/1406042

National hoops loop announced
http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/sports/article/1406200

Raptors HQ
http://www.raptorshq.com/2011/5/13/2168738/dont-wake-me-if-im-dreaming

Andre Levingston interview, runs about 22 minutes. CBC Maritimes
http://blip.tv/cbc-maritimes/andre-levingston-3135664

Fredericton group exploring new hoop loop
http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/sports/article/1406389

Professional basketball just might work well in Moncton
http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/opinion/article/1406626

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.