By Robert Williams – Record Reporter
With a backdrop of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, a panel of basketball stakeholders unveiled plans for the new Basketball Super League on Tuesday, a league of 10 to 12 teams from across Canada and the United States.
While many of the finer details are yet to be ironed out, the league aims to become the highest level of professional basketball in North America outside of the National Basketball Association system.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Titans and the other remaining National Basketball League of Canada teams are expected to join the new league, with NBLC commissioner Audley Stephenson saying Tuesday he is still reviewing the opportunity and expects to make an announcement in the coming weeks.
If they do sign on and agree to merge, it will likely represent an end to the NBLC’s 12-year run, currently operating with just four teams in Ontario. While it likely spells the demise of the NBLC brand, Stephenson referred to any possible merger as a “natural evolution” for the league.
Representatives on hand on Tuesday said all Canadian teams participating in the new super league will operate with Canadian support staff and representatives. Though nothing is official, Stephenson will be among the leading candidates to take on a major Canadian role.
It’s no secret that making money is not always easy for minor professional sports, he said, but the emphasis on home games and limited travel should give teams a pathway to break even, and eventually build a brand strong enough to become profitable.
Teams in the new super league — expected to come from Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan — will begin their inaugural season on Boxing Day this year, with a season that will run through June. A playoff structure has yet to be established.
There will be no salary cap, nor will there be a minimum number of Canadian-born players required for any of the Canadian teams. This has been an emphasis for Canadian pro leagues in the past, but Magley said it likely isn’t necessary anymore.
With such a large Canadian talent pool, and the ability for Canadian players to work and play in Canada without the need to secure work visas, Magley said the new league will continue to open doors for Canadian basketball players to play professionally at home.
The league has entered a 10-year agreement with sponsorship marketing partner Sport Media Marketing of Montreal, and the company is in the process of negotiating a major online streaming deal that will make the league’s games available internationally.
While the announcement for the new league is coming in the middle of the NBLC season, it will not change the current regular season or playoff structure — there will be at least one more NBLC champion.
“Their community goals and our community goals are completely in alignment, and we are so excited about making basketball so much bigger, not only in Kitchener, but in all of Canada and the U.S.,” said Schooley.