Kamloops featured in hoop dreams

GREGG DRINNAN / Kamloops Daily News
June 18, 2013 01:00 AM

Professional basketball in Kamloops?

The men behind CNBA Inc. and Cosmos Sports Inc. believe it could work in the form of the Canadian Basketball League.

First, though, they need to find some investors.

"We do have a business plan," Anthony Vella, the business operations co-ordinator for Cosmos Sports, a sports management firm that is based in Mississauga, said Monday afternoon. "We have put together a feasibility study over the last year . . . on the future of basketball and if a Canadian basketball league would work."

According to Vella, that study found that the "biggest appetite" for basketball was in the four western provinces.

"We're pounding the pavement looking for interested parties," Vella stated, adding that there has been some interest "from some CHL teams and some NHL teams."

No, they haven't yet heard from anyone in Kamloops. He added that there haven't yet been any commitments from elsewhere, but there has been "a lot of interest."

"They have to meet our criteria for ownership," Vella said. "The ownership is much more important to us than the market itself."

Cosmos Sports is hopeful of holding a meeting of potential investors in Edmonton in the latter part of July.

The business plan is based on average attendance of 4,000 fans per game, so, as Vella put it, "CHL arenas would work well."

Vella was adamant that a new league hasn't yet been formed.

"We're looking for the right owners . . . owners who are committed to this, (and) have the patience and the understanding that it's not going to be easy, that it's going to be a lot of work," Vella said. "They're going to need that focus as well as financial and marketing acumen. That's going to be vital . . . and, of course, that basketball passion."

The tentative plan is for an eight- or 10-team league with teams playing a 30-game schedule starting in the fall of 2014.

"If the league is to start," Vella said, "(length of schedule) would be the decision of the owners."

A team's budget would run around $2 million per season with each team playing under a $150,000 salary cap. Each team would carry 12 players, with as many as nine of those being Canadian.

"That's the biggest selling point for us," Vella said. "That's our differentiating feature. It's all about the development of Canadian talent going forward."

The hope would be that having the CBL as an option might keep Canadian players from going to Europe.

"They might think twice about leaving" if there was a chance to develop at home, Vella said.

Should the CBL get off the ground, it would become the second pro league in this country. The 10-team National Basketball League of Canada is preparing for its third season, with franchises in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca

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