The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) is adding a ninth franchise and has chosen Montreal as its home.
The new team will be called “Montreal Alliance”. Its logo features shades of iconic Quebec blue, blanc and rouge with an image of a wolf with a fleur-de-lis.
The CEBL had been looking for expansion in Montreal for some time and says conditions are now right.
“We are excited about the entertainment we provide. We are excited about the quality of basketball we bring, ”said Mike Morreale, CEBL Commissioner.
“There is no question that outside of the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, this is the best basketball you will see in this entire country.”
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The team will play in the renovated Verdun Auditorium and will play during the spring and summer seasons.
“One of the good things is that we don’t play or overlap with hockey,” Morreale said.
“We understand the power and influence of hockey. We also understand that basketball is on a trajectory of its own and I hope that one day it will overtake hockey. “
Those who are part of the game in the city say that having a team is great news and an opportunity for local talent to play in Montreal, rather than having to head to the southern United States to turn pro.
“Now they can aspire to go to school here and play professional ball here and use it as a stepping stone to other places,” said Wayne Yearwood, head coach of the Dawson College Blues basketball team and a former professional basketball player.
“It’s right in your backyard, it’s achievable, and they can come watch the games in the summer.”
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There are doubts about the viability of a basketball team in Montreal.
“Montreal is an important cog in the national wheel when it comes to national leagues, but the city has not always had successful teams,” said Brian Daly, author of “Canada’s Other Game,” a book that explores the history of basketball. in Canada. . “
“I count seven different teams since the Montreal Dragons in 1993, all of them short-lived.”
Brian says the CEBL has a few things going for it.
“One difference that I notice with CEBL is that they are backed by a major broadcaster; that is certainly unique. None of these other non-NBA leagues in Canada usually have the backing of the major broadcasters, ”Daly said, adding that the fact that they play in the spring and summer, outside of hockey season, helps.
“The obstacles for any Montreal franchise are substantial. The Montreal Canadiens loom more over the sporting landscape than a typical NHL team would be, ”Daly explains.
The league says things have changed in Quebec since the days of the Montreal Jazz basketball team, which withdrew after just one season ending with a disappointing and ownerless record.
“Montreal has become one of the strongest regions for basketball in the country, and we are very excited to fuel that growth by bringing a professional franchise to the city,” explained Morreale.
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So will this time be the charm? “Maybe things are changing,” Daly said.
“I remember in the last 10 years, the Toronto Raptors came to Montreal and sold the Bell Center. Rare. We have never seen anything like it. The demographics are changing, so maybe the CEBL will realize that and as a person who loves Montreal and loves Montreal basketball, I certainly hope it will be a success. “
The league says a head coach will be announced soon.
The team is expected to play its first matches at Montreal’s Verdun Auditorium in 2022.
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