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Canadian Elite Basketball League to launch Ottawa franchise

CEBL CEO and Commissioner Mile Morreale holds the league's championship trophy during an announcement of the league's expansion into Ottawa on Thursday. Chris Whan / Global News

The Canadian Elite Basketball League announced Thursday that they are creating a franchise in Ottawa dubbed the Blackjacks.

The professional league, which just wrapped up its inaugural season, says the city of Ottawa is one they’ve been eyeing for a while to begin expanding the league from the original six teams.

Mike Morreale is the CEO and Commissioner of the league and says he’s excited for the league to be expanding into the nation’s capital.

The Ottawa Blackjack’s first home game will be on May 14, 2020 at TD Place. CEBL Photo

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“I do feel very strongly that this will be a really good market and be able to attract quite a few good basketball players,” said Morreale.

“We look forward to bringing a family-oriented basketball and entertainment experience to the Arena at TD Place.”

The league is under single-entity ownership. What this means is that all the teams are owned by the league itself as opposed to franchisees. This, according to Morreale, is only temporary as the founders of the league wanted to get it onto stable financial ground.

“This is the beauty of how we operate. We would have the lowest operational cost of all pro sports in this country,” said Morreale.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Rattlers capture inaugural CEBL championship' Saskatchewan Rattlers capture inaugural CEBL championship
Saskatchewan Rattlers capture inaugural CEBL championship – Aug 25, 2019

As of right now, the league operates a 20-game season through the summer, with plans to expand to a 24- and then 26-game season.

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The team will play at TD Place arena, but unlike other teams that play at the venue, the 67s, Redblacks and formerly the Fury, this team will not be owned by OSEG.

As for what effect this could have on operations there, OSEG says the structure is much like if a concert rents the venue for the evening.

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As the games are played in the summer where the ice surface would normally be, there is no conflict with the 67s’ season, unless the team makes it to the final round of the playoffs.

With only 5 months before the first tip-off, Morealle says the timeline is tight. However, he believes they can accomplish putting not only a team together, but a successful one.

“This is probably going to be one of our best teams in the league. I’ll just say that now, knowing what has happened behind the scenes and the conversations we’ve had so far,” said Morreale.

“This is going to be a destination for a lot of players, so I do see this as a good team.”

The Blackjacks’ first home game will be on May 14 at TD Place arena.

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