Pro hoops in Barrie? : GAME ON

Ian Shantz - Barrie Examiner

Pro basketball could be coming to Barrie.

No, seriously.

Of course, it's not the NBA. LeBron and Kobe won't be slamming dunks at the Holly Community Centre any time soon.

But the National Basketball League of Canada - a league that announced its formation on Thursday, with an eye on beginning play in November - could include a franchise in Barrie.

The three founding teams include the St. John Mill Rats, the Halifax Rainmen and the Quebec Kebs, all of which left the Premier Basketball League last month.

The four other franchises to file letters of intent to join include Barrie, Oshawa, Kingston and Moncton.

It would be the first national pro league in Canada, however, details are sketchy at best.

According to a QMI Agency report, participating teams will share whatever revenues come in from such things as corporate sponsors and TV rights, the league will eventually hire a president, CEO and commissioner, and teams will be required to include a certain number of Canadians on their respective rosters.

The league hopes to develop players for the NBA, but entertainment and competitiveness are the top priorities.

"This will be Canada's basketball league," Andre Levingston, owner of the Halifax franchise, said during Thursday's press conference in Halifax.

Mauro DiVito represents the pending Barrie franchise. He's based out of York Region and runs the St. David Blues club program there.

Reached Friday afternoon, DiVito said, upon the advice of the owner of the Barrie team, they didn't wish to comment on the league just yet. Instead, DiVito said, they planned to "do something official," perhaps as early as next week.

Pro basketball is virtually non-existent in Canada, and semi-pro leagues have come and gone over the years with little success.

Mauro Porco, with the Simcoe Suns club, doubts a pro team could make it in Barrie and is skeptical of where the revenue would come from.

"It's not going to be a gate league," said Porco, who has been involved in basketball for 15 years. "So where are you getting the money from?"

Going up against hot-ticket hockey in Barrie would also be a massive uphill climb, said Porco, who also questioned where the players would come from.

"I don't think it has a chance of succeeding in Ontario," he said. "I think it would be good if it could fly, but ... if the quality of players is going to be watered-down, how are you going to charge people (to watch it)?"

Reports suggest a team salary cap of about $150,000, with players making $2,000 to $4,000 per month.

Rookie Scrimmage

The Barrie Colts are getting a jump on next season by hosting a rookie scrimmage today at the Innisfil Recreational Complex from 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

All 1994- and 1995-born draft picks are invited, along with a select number of free agents.

The Colts drafted 17 players last Saturday in the OHL Priority Selection, including first-overall pick Aaron Ekblad, who will skate with the Colts for the first time.

Baycats' home opener

The Barrie Baycats (1-0) host their regular-season home opener today, weather permitting.

The Intercounty Baseball team takes on the Ottawa FatCats (1-1), with the first pitch at Barrie Metals Stadium set to be delivered at

2 p.m.

Tickets are $7.50 for adults. Kids under 12 get in for free. Tickets are available at the box office.

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