When Andre Levingston walked into Harbour Station yesterday, the scoreboard read: Millrats 120, Rainmen 70. And so a rivalry was officially born.
Levingston, who owns the Halifax Rainmen, was in Saint John, N.B., for an off-season press conference announcing news the Manchester (N.H.) Millrats had officially relocated their Premier Basketball League franchise to the Maritimes.
“They don’t like Halifax, that’s for sure, and they let it be known that, ‘We’re better than Halifax, everything here is better than Halifax,’” said Levingston, who also serves as PBL president.
“Even the mayor (Ivan Court) pitched in and said they was gonna smash us. It’s going to be a really good rivalry, that’s for sure.”
Prior to yesterday’s announcement, the Millrats were already the Rainmen’s closest geographic rival along with the Quebec Kebs.
Levingston expects the club to be an instant hit in Saint John after three seasons in Manchester.
“The city is just really, really enthused about having its own franchise,” Levingston said. “The press conference was packed with business people and corporate sponsors. They have a lot of corporate support right off the bat.”
A name-the-team contest will be held, although officials haven’t ruled out keeping the Millrats moniker.
Levingston is flying to Puerto Rico today to meet with Baloncesto Superior Nacional officials about the possibility of enticing “three or four” of its teams to join the PBL. The Arecibo Capitanes played in the PBL last season but had a turbulent relationship with league officials.
“The BSN is such a really strong league and its teams are financed properly,” Levingston said. “If we can have a relationship with those guys, that would be huge for our league.”
The PBL currently has eight teams.