Basketball interest in Western Canada

Katie Brickman
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New league laying groundwork for franchises in Saskatchewan

Moose Jaw Minor Basketball is looking for players.

Professional basketball could be coming to Moose Jaw if the Canadian Basketball League (CBL) has it their way.

An Ontario-based group is looking for interested ownership groups to set up franchises in a new Canadian league that would be based in the west.

Cosmos Sports, a sports marketing firm from Mississauga as well as three investors — Robert Smeenk, Thomas Smeenk and Greg Nelson finished a feasibility study about six months ago and from that, many people are interested in bringing basketball to Western Canada.

“We are really excited and we have a very good feeling about the Canadian Basketball League, especially in Western Canada. There is a real appetite and there is a lot of interest,” said Cary Kaplan, president of Cosmos Sports Inc. “We are driving this by interest and there seems to be a high level of excitement in Western Canada.”

The CBL is seeking for a minimum of eight groups or individuals that would be interested in owning a franchise in the League that would begin play in the fall of 2014. The League has not been launched, rather it is in the early stages and a meeting has been called for early July to see who is interested from different communities. That meeting will be used to determine the interest and viability of those ownerships groups.

“Rather than come out and say we have ownership groups or that we are in certain cities, we told everyone that expressed interest to have a meeting and lay down what the business model would be and see who wants to move forward,” explained Kaplan. “Out of that meeting, we will know one way or the other how viable the league is. But, again, we are optimist on the initial discussion that there is lots of groups and individuals and hockey teams — we think it is a natural fit for Western Hockey League teams to compliment the other in the same venue as a hockey team. It seems obvious to us, but no one has done that before.”

This league would be similar to the D League in the United States, a development league for the NBA. The league would have two divisions that would only face off during the playoffs, a $1,5000 team salary cap and all teams would be required to provide annual dues to the League to ensure its stability. There would be a non-import requirement of about six to nine Canadian players per team, similar to the Canadian Football League.

Cosmos Sports and Kaplan believes that if the right individual or group in Moose Jaw were interested in a franchise; it would be a great location for a team in the CBL.

“I think to say to the people of Moose Jaw…I think some of the most successful franchises in all kind of sports — hockey, baseball and basketball — are not necessarily in the large communities,” said Kaplan.  “I think a team could work in Moose Jaw, but we need an ownership that is committed to that.”

If anyone is interested in bringing a professional basketball team to Moose Jaw, they can contact Kaplan or Anthony Vella at Cosmos Sports Inc. at 905-564-4660.

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