National Basketball League of Canada clarifies removal of Skyhawks from League

The National Basketball League of Canada has clarified its position on the removal of the Ottawa Skyhawks from the League.

The League's board of governors voted Thursday 8-0 to remove the Skyhawks. The team had played only one season in the NBLC.

In a press release issued Monday, the League says the Skyhawks were expelled because "deadlines were missed for loan payments, no venue lease had been submitted with dates for the season, and no proof of funding for the upcoming season was provided."

NBL Canada Commissioner Paul Riley told CFRA Thursday the move had nothing to do with game attendance.

"Their first season was a very difficult one for them," said Riley of the SkyHawks. "I know they ran into some problems financially. I don't think they quite budgeted the full cost of what it took to run a team."

He said the league had been propping up the team financially and could not keep doing so.

"Quite frankly we did help them out last year," he said. "[We] sent significant money there and we just weren't in the position to do that again. It's not the model that we want to carry forward."

He said securing a permanent venue for the team was also a big problem. The team was supposed to play at Canadian Tire Centre, but ended up playing games at La Cite Collegiale and in Gatineau.

"Fans need to know where the team is going to be playing," he said. "The venues that were used were not really the quality of venues that we wanted for the NBL."

"I thought a mistake was made last year with the Canadian Tire Centre," he added. "It may be too big, too cavernous, too expensive. But there just didn't seem to be a viable solution put in place this year as the season is quickly approaching now and there is some valid concern there. The board felt the ownership group in Ottawa were not in a position to go forward in the manner in which we desire them to."

He said the league is 100 per cent committed to bringing back professional basketball to Ottawa as soon as next year.

Monday's news release by the NBLC says, "when a new group emerges with interest in the Ottawa market, they will have to submit an application to join the League in the same manner as every other expansion team in the past."

The League says, for the record, the NBLC does not charge a "fee" to join the League. They say expansion teams acquire stock in the League equal to other teams and pay the same annual dues as other teams upon joining.

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