The owners of Ottawa’s only professional basketball team officially announced Wednesday the latest entry into the city’s increasingly crowded sports marketplace, promising an affordable experience for families.
© Cole Burston
Gus Takkale is the president of Bytown Sports and Entertainment Inc.
Gus Takkale, the president of team owner Bytown Sports and Entertainment Inc., said he wants to make it possible for a family of four to attend a game for less than $100.
The addition of the team comes as the number of sports franchises in the city is rapidly expanding. A new Canadian Football League team is set to start playing at Lansdowne Park in 2014, while Mayor Jim Watson has promised a AA baseball team will return at around the same time.
The basketball franchise doesn’t yet have any corporate sponsors, but Mr. Takkale is confident a higher number of teams will increase the total number of dollars businesses are willing to spend on sports.
“People ask me ‘are you worried about the competition?’ and I say absolutely not,” he said. “We’re going to compliment each other.”
Mr. Watson, who also attended Wednesday’s press conference, predicted professional basketball would help attract tourist dollars to the city by offering a different experience to those who have already visited and seen landmarks such as Parliament Hill.
“The key to the success of tourism is always changing your product...if we have baseball, basketball and soccer, football and hockey, plus cultural events and all sorts of other activities, it gives another reason for Ottawa to act as a magnet to get people from outside,” said Mr. Watson, moments after shooting a basketball into a hoop during the press conference at Scotiabank Place.
The team hasn’t yet settled on ticket prices for individual games, but Mr. Takkale wants them to start at around $10 and not more than $100 to sit next to the court.
He said he didn’t know exactly how many tickets need to be sold for the franchise to be viable, since that will depend on the level of corporate sponsorships. However he said he expects to average between 3,500 and 4,500 people.
According to a report last December in the Toronto Star, attendance during the league’s first few months ranged from roughly 2,800 in Halifax to approximately 500 in Quebec City.
The Ottawa team will be the ninth franchise to join the league, which started play for the first time in 2011.
The team will have contest through its website to come up with a nickname. They had already received more than 20 suggestions by mid-afternoon on Wednesday.