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(Posted 11 a.m., Nov. 22)
Ottawa professional basketball franchise has Orléans connection
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa's newest professional sports team has a local connection. Orléans resident Gus Takkale is the president and CEO of Bytown Sports and Entertainment, the group behind the National Capital's entry in the National Basketball League of Canada.

Ottawa will be the ninth team in the league which has been operating since November 2011. Other franchises include the Montreal Jazz, the Moncton Miracles, the Halifax Rainmen and the Windsor Express

The season runs from early November to the end of March. Each 12-man roster must have a minimum of three Canadians with a salary cap of $150,000.

Bytown Sports and Entertainment president George Takkale (left), Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and NBLC co-founder Ian McCarthy attended a press conference on Wednesday announcing the awarding of a professional basketball franchise to Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Bytown Sports

The Ottawa franchise has launched a naming contest to come up with a name by the end of the year. A logo and branding will be developed shortly thereafter and officially unveiled in early 2013. Fans can submit their suggestions at basketballottawa.com.

The team hopes to name a coaching staff by the spring, with players signed through the summer. A combine and draft will be held in August.

Takkale is an author with a background in professional speaking on "personal change and success", who has no limit when it comes to optimism.

He's confident the team will draw the 3,500 to 4,500 fans they need to be successful, and then some. Ticket prices in Scotiabank Place are expected to range from $10-$12 for upper bowl seats, $20-$25 for lower bowl seats; and $75-$95 for courtside seats.

The average attendance during the league's fledgling season was under 3,000 although some games drew over 5,000 fans.

Takkale says the league was established to give Canadian born basketball players a chance to continue to play basketball on their home soil after they graduate from university.

"We want to urge local kids to play professional basketball in Canada rather than go to the U.S. or over in Europe," says Takkale referring specifically to kids coming out of the University of Ottawa and Carleton programs.

The only player of note from the area currently in the league is Willy Manigat who is on the Summerside Storm. Manigat played high school ball at Samuel Genest before joining the Carleton Ravens in 2009.

For more information about the National Basketball League of Canada visit http://nblcanada.pointstreaksites.com/view/nblcanada.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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