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‘This is our chance’: Grizzlies superfan holding rally to bring NBA back to Vancouver

Click to play video: 'Bring Back The Grizz fans to rally outside NBA preseason game' Bring Back The Grizz fans to rally outside NBA preseason game
WATCH: The documentary filmmaker and Vancouver Grizzlies fan behind 'Finding Big Country' is on a mission to bring the NBA team back to the city, and as Aaron McArthur reports, a rally is planned outside Thursday's NBA preseason game at Rogers Arena – Oct 14, 2019

Nearly 20 years after Vancouver lost its NBA franchise, a Grizzlies superfan is hoping to start a movement to bring one back.

Kat Jayme, the filmmaker behind the award-winning documentary Finding Big Country, is organizing a rally to show local support when the NBA comes to Rogers Arena on Thursday.

That’s when ex-Raptor superstar Kawhi Leonard and his LA Clippers will take on the Dallas Mavericks.

READ MORE: Raptors’ breakthrough could bring the NBA back to Vancouver within 10 years: analyst

“We only have one shot at this,” said Jayme.

“The NBA only comes to town once a year, so this is our chance to show the league how great our fans are.”

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She’s encouraging fans to deck themselves out in Grizzlies gear, make signs, and come make themselves visible to the league.

“I want this for the younger generation,” she said.

“I grew up with the Grizzlies, I was six when they came, they were sort of my gateway to dreaming that I wanted to be the first girl in the NBA.”

Click to play video: 'Toronto Raptors fallout in B.C.' Toronto Raptors fallout in B.C.
Toronto Raptors fallout in B.C – Jun 17, 2019

The Vancouver Grizzlies left town in 2001, after a decidedly mediocre six-season run, becoming today’s Memphis Grizzlies.

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READ MORE: An oral history of the Vancouver Grizzlies

Getting a team to Vancouver won’t be easy. The latest Forbes valuations price an NBA franchise north of US$1.9 billion.

Randy Vogt, owner of Granville Sports, says it’s clear there’s a big support base in town, with sales of Grizzlies jerseys and caps among his fastest moving products.

“All the kids that used to go to the game, grown up now, still are fans,” he said.

READ MORE: The Toronto Raptors’ road to the NBA Finals began in Burnaby, B.C.

Vogt said sales of Grizzlies and Toronto merchandise have only grown since the latter team developed into championship material.

“The Raptors changed business a lot,” he said.

“Before the Raptors were a successful NBA organization, business for the Raptors jerseys wasn’t very good. But as the Raptors have improved, their jersey sales have gone through the roof,” he said.

Click to play video: '“Finding Big Country” premiere at VIFF 2018' “Finding Big Country” premiere at VIFF 2018
“Finding Big Country” premiere at VIFF 2018 – Sep 28, 2018

Jayme said she’s counting on Raptormania to help drive the conversation about bringing the NBA back to Vancouver.

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READ MORE: The 62 who played for the Vancouver Grizzlies: Where are they now?

She said she’s clear-eyed about the fact that if the NBA does return permanently to Vancouver, it probably won’t be soon.

But she said step one is showing the NBA, and potentially deep-pocketed investors, that Vancouver wants — and can support — a team, even if their on-court record is as bad as the original Grizzlies.

“They were awful, but we still loved them,” she said. “Even though we sucked, we still had a team to cheer for.”

With files from Aaron McArthur

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