St. John's signs 5-year lease with new pro basketball team for Mile One

·2 min read
St. John's will have a new professional basketball team for five years.  (Jen White/CBC - image credit)
St. John's will have a new professional basketball team for five years. (Jen White/CBC - image credit)
Jen White/CBC
Jen White/CBC

The City of St. John's announced Thursday morning it has reached a five-year lease agreement with a company called 2001 Investments to bring the American Basketball Association to Mile One Centre this fall.

"We look forward to many exciting seasons of play in the American Basketball Association," said Coun. Jamie Korab, chair of St. John's Sports and Entertainment (SJSE) in a media release.

Tony Kenny heads the ownership group 2001 Investments Ltd.

In the past, Kenny had been linked to a lease agreement in 2017 which was an effort to bring a basketball team to the province's capital city ahead of what became the St. John's Edge finding its home. Before that, Kenny was part of past efforts to bring a major junior hockey team to St. John's.

"As a local ownership group, we've been working for years to bring competitive spectator sports to the province. We had a great experience working with [SJSE] on this project, and we're excited for the potential of our partnership going forward," Kenny said in the media release.

"The ABA is high-flying, high quality and fast-paced basketball that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are going to love."

Kenny said the to-be-named ABA franchise will play 30 games out of Mile One Centre this season, "which is more basketball than we've ever seen here before."

The lease agreement was signed on Tuesday, according to the city's media release, and details on the team and ticket sales "will be announced soon."

The first step toward Thursday's agreement came in July when the city announced it could not reach a new deal with the ownership group of the Edge team.

In the same announcement, the city said council and SJSE jointly approved a proposal from 2001 Investments to bring a new franchise to Mile One.

Details remain scarce surrounding the new ABA club, including its name. While nothing has been officially announced, social media accounts for "St. John's Rock" have cropped up since the July 15 announcement.

The ABA has been operating since 1999. The league has more than 130 teams listed on its website.

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