CEBL eying multi-week tourney in Niagara in place of 2020 season

Following up on its April statement announcing a delay into June to the start of the 2020 regular season, the Canadian Elite Basketball League announced Monday that it has narrowed its options to play in 2020 to a tournament format, removing other contingency plans from further consideration.

The league is now focused exclusively on a multi-week tournament that would see all seven clubs convene in a single location in Ontario to play a round-robin slate of games culminating in a single-elimination playoff that will determine the 2020 league champion. While specifics are still to be finalized, the CEBL is in discussions with Niagara area officials about the availability of the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines for the second half of July and August. All plans must conform to the phased-in re-opening measures taken by the province throughout the coming weeks.

“We have been working closely with public health and government officials in developing numerous contingency plans, knowing that ultimately any actions we may take will be dictated by protocols they create to ensure the safety of players, coaches, venue staff, and league officials,” said CEBL Commissioner Mike Morreale. “I would like to acknowledge the work of the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Lisa MacLeod, and her staff, as well as the City of St. Catharines with whom we have had positive discussions around potentially being the host site of a tournament. We are optimistic that our league will be a leader in returning pro sports to playing in Canada.”

The CEBL had been scheduled to open its second season May 7, and to finish the campaign with the 2020 CEBL Championship Weekend in Edmonton, August 14-16.

“We appreciate the support of Edmonton Events, a strategic partnership between the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Tourism, and the Edmonton EXPO Centre and share their disappointment in the lost opportunity to hold Championship Weekend in Edmonton this year,” Morreale added. “We look forward to future hosting opportunities in Alberta’s capital in front of our incredible fans.”

Teams around the league are starting immediately to contact ticket buyers to inform them of their options to hold their tickets on account for the 2021 season and receive rewards for doing so, or to facilitate a refund on their investment.

As Canada’s only officially licensed professional basketball league, the CEBL enters its second season with franchises in Edmonton, Fraser Valley (Abbotsford), Guelph, Hamilton, Niagara (St. Catharines), Ottawa, and Saskatchewan (Saskatoon). Eighty percent of the players are Canadians who play in the top professional leagues overseas and in the NBA G League during the traditional basketball season. Saskatchewan defeated Hamilton to win the league’s first championship in August of 2019.

Source: Canadian Elite Basketball League

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