Kingston Bows out of NBL

K-Rock Centre, National Basketball League of Canada, Kingston, OntarioUnless you’re a die hard fan of hoops and hardwood, chances are you are likely unaware that Canada is fast approaching the arrival of our very own National Basketball League.  Admittedly I had not heard of the NBL until a few days ago, however I was pleasantly surprised to learn that investors were interested in bringing a team to Kingston, while the league had already confirmed franchises in Halifax, Saint John and Quebec.  Can you imagine, the Limestone City and the K-Rock Centre becoming home to a new national basketball team, and a part of it’s inaugural season?  Well keep dreaming, because the deal has fallen through and investors have moved on and shifted their sights on Moncton.

According to City officials, the deadline to ink the deal did not leave enough time to complete the necessary due diligence required to determine whether or not the team was viable, and if the K-Rock Centre could be shared with the Kingston Frontenacs. The proposed deal would have also required the City of Kingston to invest $100,000 to purchase basketball flooring, nets and shot clocks in order to convert the KRC’s ice surface into a basketball court.  Regarding Kingston’s decision to bow out, interim NBL President, Andre Levingston, stated:

It’s unfortunate that the City of Kingston and the ownership group could not come to an agreement for this year, but we are very confident, optimistic and excited that we will reach an agreement with the City of Moncton in time for the 2011-12 season.

While details of the negotiations, specifically where they fell through, aren’t entirely public knowledge, the NBL also hinted that the under performing K-Rock Centre may have been the biggest stumbling block:

The K-Rock is a beautiful new arena that they seemed needed helping drawing fans and sponsors to, so we thought it was a no-brainer quite frankly. Perhaps a new group will surface and they can look to join in 2012-13.

To be honest, I am not convinced that an NBL franchise is the right fit for Kingston’s hockey obsessed market, but I am disappointed the deal fell through so quickly.  On one hand it’s never a good idea to throw good money after bad, however the question remains as to whether or not passing on a franchise was the right decision.  Surely the $100,000 start up cost was just the beginning, as there would have likely been additional tax payer funding required to support the team down the road.  Perhaps only time will tell if Canada can even sustain a basketball league. And if it is successful, how long will the line up be in future years if Kingston decides to chase a franchise?

What are you’re thoughts on Kingston’s ability to support a NBL franchise.  Do you think city officials made the right call given the circumstances?

Thanks to shockmotion for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

11 thoughts on “Kingston Bows out of NBL

  • Why bother sharing the place with the Frontenacs, give it to a basketball team that might actually win a game once or twice.

  • It blows my mind that sharing the arena with the Fronts was a stumbling block. How many professional leagues and teams share facilities? If NHL and NBA teams can find a way to make it work I'm sure the City of Kingston could find a way to share the arena, especially given that the NBL would have a short season compared to the Fronts. I don't know if a team would fly in Kingston but we certainly don't need yet another (taxpayer funded) study for something that should be easily figured out by city/arena employees.

    • The big issue was the labour cost of installing/removing the floor for every game. We don't know what the deal was, but it was reported in the whig the guaranteed amount wasn't even enough to cover that cost(presumably plus some % of ticket sales like the Fronts pay). Then there would be displacing the Fronts requiring the city provide practice ice elsewhere. And buying the $100k floor with no guarantee the team or league would last any length of time.

      Considering the attendance history in Kingston, the poor history of start up/secondary sports leagues, and this one still trying to get teams a few months before play starts, it was a wise move not to become involved. Completely ridiculous they would expect the city to commit with a few week ultimatum. Kingston staff said they needed more time, not no, and the team pulled out. Barrie wouldn't go for it either

      They say they need to average 2000 tickets to be viable. I can't see no name basketball drawing at the low end the Fronts draw.

  • Obvious point. If the Springers were involved in the NBL, you'd think the city would say a peep about those same things? Of course not. In a couple of hours I will be walking by 'Springer Market Square'. Need I say more.

    Grabbed a tweet from Neate Sager. Covers junior hockey for Yahoo Sports.

    "Really, Kingston, really? You gave the Frontenacs the sweetheart deal of all time but screwed it up with the NBL. #sameoldsameold"

  • im from saint john we share our rink with the sea dogs last season cant see why u guys cant its some great basketball and its like seeing the NBA well its the NBL so :) it is the NBA of CANADA alot of skill and u guys will miss out this season on the crazey basket ball !!

  • also this year with the NBA going into lock out we will more then likeley see players come over to play in the nbl

  • The KRC might have been the problem…i.e. the use of it with the fronts. But I suspect a bigger problem was the lack of space to store a floor when the Fronts or any other event was on. There is no storage space in the KRC, so the floor would have to be stored off-site, at a significant cost. to move it to the storage location. And, if there were 50 games/season, that would be 50 times putting the floor in and taking it out. Hard on the floor. So it would be essential to have a GOOD floor, not some two-bit item.
    And the cost of the clock, wiring, etc. would be a lot.
    It is unfortunate to lose this opportunity. Kingston is a city where few risks are taken, and few people see the big picture.
    As one of the Doornkamp (sp?) athletes pointed out, maybe use of the Queen's facility for a couple of years would have been a good trial. IF the university would share it….

  • It's difficult to make any judgment about this given that the NBL is a completely unknown quantity. However, I am not surprised that the council were cautious given that they were presented with a plan at short notice with a high outlay and no realistic sense of what returns they would get. It's just a shame they don't apply the same logic more often when handing out money to risky projects…

  • It would be neat if the NBL, once it gets going, hold a couple of "promotion" games in Kingston. It could be useful in testing the waters, gauging Kingston's citizens' interest in it (good for Kingston) while also help boosting awareness for the league (good for NBL).

  • I still can't believe this fell through! The NBLC is now in it's 3rd season and average attendance continues to rise all across the league; London had over 7,000 people vs Mississauga earlier this season. We need an ownership group to step up and bring us a team asap!

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