A new basketball league which will showcase Canadian players was announced on Wednesday with Saskatoon being named as one of the six centres to host a team.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League will begin its first seson in May 2019 and will run a 20 game regular-season with playoffs wrapping up in August.
The CEO of the league is someone who is no stranger to the CFL. Former CFL players association boss and long-time player Mike Morreale is going to serve as the CEO.
Someone else familiar with Saskatchewan sports fans is also part of the league executive.
Lee Genier is the President and Chief Operating Officer for the league’s Western Operations. He used to work for the Calgary Stampeders and he was president of the Saskatchewan Rush when the team moved to Saskatoon from Edmonton.
He is excited to bring another team to Saskatoon.
“It is great to bring another professional sports team to Saskatoon.” Genier said. “Basketball is surging in popularity across Canada so I anticipate we will see great crowds at Sask-Tel Centre. I will take the same energy with this team that I had with the Rush. You can expect great entertainment just like you see at Rush games. I know how passionate fans are in Saskatoon, so I think this will be great.”
The league says Canadian-based players will make up a large part of team rosters as many Canadians are forced to go overseas to find elite basketball competition.
As for why Saskatoon was chosen ahead of Regina, Genier says it comes down to the size of the building.
“There’s a 15,000 seat building in Saskatoon.” Genier stated. “The success of the Rush has shown me that if its not broken don’t fix it. I think we have shown what we can do in Saskatoon if you do it right and it is a case of replicating what we did with the Rush and do it again. The only difference is that instead of having three months to get ready, I have a full year.”
Other teams will be located in Edmonton, Hamilton, Guelph, Niagara and Fraser Valley, B.C