Can a professional Canadian basketball league thrive in Western Canada, and could Cranbrook support such a franchise?
That is the question that a company out of Ontario is asking in a proposal to create the Canadian Basketball League, an entity designed to cultivate and showcase professional hoops talent in the western part of the country.
Cary Kaplan, president of Cosmos Sports Inc, which is based out of Mississauga, Ont., has completed a feasibility study that seeks a minimum of eight individuals or groups to set up franchises that could be in action by 2014.
“I think we look at the WHL/OHL model as a natural fit for what this is, which is a second-tier professional basketball league. Cranbrook, as well as places like Brandon and Red Deer and Surrey and Kelowna and Lethbridge are places that may make a lot of sense,” said Kaplan.
“…Not to say we’d exclude larger markets, but when you have an arena of 4,000-5,000 seats, that would work for this league, so Cranbrook makes sense for sure.”
The league will be formed to have two divisions with cross-divisional travel limited to playoffs. A team salary cap will be enforced and all teams will have substantial requirements of both sales and marketing of their clubs and provide annual dues to the league to ensure its viability.
“We did a feasibility study, it took six months, we spent most of last year making sure that it even made sense to bring this announcement forward,” said Kaplan.
“So it’s done, we completed it and one thing we learned, what we found, is that from Manitoba west, there is huge appetite for basketball, and it’s very conducive to complement a lot of the hockey arenas.”
Cosmos Sports Inc is a sports marketing company founded by Kaplan, who is a former president of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. There will be a meeting in Edmonton in August featuring potential franchise ownership groups and he encourages any in Cranbrook who is interested in getting involved to contact him through his website at www.cosmossports.com.
“It’s about developing Canadian talent and making sure that Canadian basketball players have a place to play so they don’t go to Europe,” Kaplan said.
“There’s no league yet, the concept is have this meeting, see how many serious ownership groups are there, and then we’d make a decision if we move forward.”