Summerside sitting out 1st season of new pro basketball league
The Charlottetown-Summerside basketball rivalry is taking a time out, at least for now.
Summerside was originally set to be part of the inaugural Eastern Canadian Basketball League beginning next month, but decided in February to opt out.
J.P. Desrosiers, the city's deputy CAO, said there weren't enough details about the league at that time to give them a sense of whether it could be successful in the city.
"From an operational perspective, we still hadn't received an understanding of where the financing was going to come from, the sponsorships, even player housing. We know we're into a housing struggle in the province, and finding housing for athletes was not going to be an easy feat."
Plans for the pro basketball league were announced in 2021, and included teams in both Summerside and Charlottetown.
The league was hoping to sign a rental agreement with the City of Summerside to play games out of Credit Union Place.
One thing we're very fortunate for, here in our market at our venue, is there's just insane demand for our facilities. — J.P. Desrosiers
"One thing we're very fortunate for, here in our market at our venue, is there's just insane demand for our facilities," Desrosiers said. "So for us to be holding dates for something that may or may not come to fruition was becoming more and more challenging for our existing users."
The league is going ahead with six Maritime teams: Charlottetown, Truro, the Annapolis Valley, Bathurst, Saint John and Moncton.
The Charlottetown Power's home opener is April 8 at the Eastlink Centre, though the team's roster is still not complete. Tickets go on sale next week.
"I wish Summerside was in. It was a natural, built-in rivalry," said John Abbott, interim general manager of Eastlink Centre.
Finding accommodations a challenge
League officials said finding accommodations for players has been one of the major challenges of getting up and running.
"I think a lot of it is first-year blues, right? I think that's why a lot of it is a bit late coming together," said league vice-president Dwayne Tingley.
"We also had to wait for other leagues to wrap up to see what players would be available. I'm talking about mostly the European leagues. And again, a lot of it was availability of arenas. That's why the schedule was late being drawn up."
Desrosiers said if all goes well with the league this year, Summerside would consider joining next season.