Hamilton Honey Badgers, Niagara River Lions get new CEBL rival in Newfoundland

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Published November 26, 2021 at 6:12 pm

The Canadian Elite Basketball League is going to have a piece of the Rock next summer, when it becomes a coast-to-coast competition.

The league, which the Hamilton Honey Badgers and Niagara River Lions have been part of since it tipped off in 2019, announced Friday (Nov. 26) that the Newfoundland Growlers will check in as an expansion team for the ’22 season. With new franchises also launching in Montreal and Scarborough, the CEBL will actually be the largest pro league in Canada, with at least 10 teams.

The Growlers’ parent company, Deacon Sports and Entertainment, also owns the Toronto Maple Leafs farm team by the same name. The hoops and hockey clubs will have the same colours and branding. They won’t play out of the same arena. The basketball Growlers will play at a 2,500-seat fieldhouse at Memorial University.

“St. John’s and the surrounding area is known to be an outstanding sports community with exceptional fan support, so we’re excited to bring the best pro basketball in Canada outside of the NBA to Newfoundland,” CEBL commissioner and CEO Mike Morreale stated. “(Growlers executives) Dean MacDonald, Glenn Stanford, and the staff at Deacon Sports and Entertainment have an unparalleled passion for investing in the community through sports ownership and the Growlers Give program.”

The CEBL has also scheduled a major announcement in Calgary on Tuesday (Nov. 30). Morreale is scheduled to appear. Also speaking is Jermaine Small, the head coach and GM of the reigning champion Edmonton Stingers.

The league has a strong Canadian emphasis, with rosters required to be 75 per cent Canadian. Its May-to-August schedule also expands the potential market of players with experience in the NBA, NBA G League, respected domestic leagues in Europe and Asia, the NCAA and U Sports. Each team is also required to have one active Canadian university player on their roster.

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