Pro basketball is coming to Ottawa.
Not NBA ball, but National Basketball League of Canada (NBL) basketball.
“This is going to be electrifying,” said Bytown Sports president Gus Takkale, 38, Wednesday, during an announcement at Scotiabank Place, where the newly minted team is slated to play its inaugural 2013-2014 season.
Takkale, who also works as a motivational speaker, said he is passionate about basketball and said fans will be impressed with the quality of basketball played in the league. He said branding and a team name will be revealed in January a coach will be hired in the spring and a team with a full 12-man roster of players should be up and running by September, after a three-round draft in August.
“Today we celebrate the birth of hope,” he said explaining that with a professional basketball franchise in town promising amateur players and their fans would no longer have to look outside the city for A-level basketball. “Today have their own basketball team to cheer for.”
Takkale said he envisages a family of four being able to enjoy a game for less than $100. Ticket prices will range between $20 to $9, said Takkale.
To break even his new team will need to sell 3,500-4500 seats per game, but given Ottawa’s size and strong basketball tradition, he said he hopes to sell out an 8,000-seat court each game . The team will have a $150,000 salary cap.
“I am confident about interest in Basketball in Ottawa,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, noting the evidence plays out in courts around the city.
The NBL launched in 2011 and has eight teams in Eastern Canadian in cities that include Montreal, London and Hallifax.
“We are ecstatic to be able to bring our brand of ball to Ottawa,” said NBL president and founder Ian McCarthy. when asked if he thought the new team would be competing for limited fan dollars in a market with an increasing number of pro sports franchises, McCarthy dismissed the idea saying hockey and basketball sports fans are different segments and other looming sports concerns such as football and soccer happen in different seasons.
Takkale, who co-owns Bytown Sports with investor Sonny Gill, said Bytown Sports was set up this summer to ink a deal with the NBL and bring a team to Ottawa.
Senators Sports & Entertainment president Cyril Leeder said it will be a challenge to co-ordinate the basketball team’s 100 games with those of the Senators and the Ottawa 67’s, but he remained confident it would be doable, adding that the 67’s will only be playing at Scotiabank place for one more year before moving back to the Civic Centre.