Professional basketball is heading to Abbotsford in one year’s time.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League will feature six teams from across Canada playing a 20-game schedule.
The Abbotsford-based team, referred to as the Fraser Valley professional basketball team in the league plans, will play out of the Abbotsford Centre.
The CEBL season will begin in May, with a playoff and championship series concluding the season in August.
The Abbotsford franchise was originally announced back in November, and was the second team added to the league. Teams are also located in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Guelph, Niagara and Hamilton.
Mike Morreale, the CEO for the CEBL, said expanding to Abbotsford made a lot sense for the league.
“Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley was an attractive area for us,” he said. “It’s close to Vancouver but also has its own identity. Also, the Abbotsford Centre is a great venue and the management team there has done a great job bringing their own events to that arena so we know we’re working with partners who do good things.”
Morreale said the 20-game format will ensure that every game is important and allow the league to stick to a summer schedule.
All six teams will play in one division for the league’s inaugural season, with the top four teams competing in single elimination playoff games to determine the CEBL champion.
Morreale said the number of games and playoff format will likely change if and when the league expands to include more teams. He said there is interest in additional markets in B.C., but it has to make sense.
“We’re always interested in other markets but Abbotsford is a great first market for B.C. with a rich grassroots basketball program, and the Fraser Valley really includes markets like Surrey, Chilliwack, Langley and Mission,” he said.
Within the next two to four months it’s expected that a name-the-team campaign will begin and the Fraser Valley franchise will hire a director of operations. The club will have permanent office space at the Abbotsford Centre and will also be hiring sales and marketing employees.
As far as Canadian content goes, Morreale said he expects a significant amount of Canadian talent to hit the floor.
“Some spots will be reserved for Canadians but we also have a ton of international players that want to play here but can’t during the international season,which is another reason why we moved to the spring and summer schedule. It it frees up some of that talent to play here.
“And it also allows a Canadian player to come home and make some money during the summer.”
For more on the league, visit cebl.ca.