Ottawa’s new basketball team is here for the long-haul, according to Gus Takkale, the president and co-owner of the Bytown Sports & Entertainment, the company behind the SkyHawks team.
© Cole Burston
Gus Takkale is the president of Bytown Sports and Entertainment Inc.
By Jacob Serebrin
“We have a few hurdles as a startup,” said Mr. Takkale.
And while he describes the team’s first season as a learning experience he said he’s “happy with what we’ve achieved so far.”
With such a new team, Mr. Takkale said a major focus has just been building brand awareness.
One strategy the team’s using is putting on basketball camps and clinics to go along with coaching seminars for parents. These events not only help build knowledge of the team, they also bring in revenue.
When it comes to ticket sales, the company’s biggest source of revenue, Mr. Takkale said there’s two stories. Weekend games have proven more popular and in line with expectations, while ticket sales for weekday games have been below expectations.
According to Mr. Takkale, the average weekend game draws over 2,000 fans. A weekday draws around half of that, however.
Mr. Takkale said he thinks part of the problem might be the team’s venue, the Canadian Tire Centre. He said the Kanata location may discourage people who work in other parts of the city from coming to games on weekday evenings.
The company has begun reevaluating its venue, though that process is still “very preliminary,” he said. He added that he’s considering moving at least some games to a more central facility.
While Canada is known as a hockey country, Mr. Takkale said he believes “Ottawa is a basketball city.”
He points to the success of local university and college teams – Carleton University has long been a powerhouse across the country – and said that “basketball is the fastest growing sport in Canada.”
“There’s tremendous potential,” he said. “People are excited.”
The team is in talks with broadcasters and said that he has big ambitions for the next five to ten years.
While Ottawa has a long history of failed sports franchises, Mr. Takkale said he thinks that has more to do with the people running those teams than the city.
“It’s the people that are in charge that are responsible, not the marketplace,” he said.
“Our prices are reasonable,” said Mr. Takkale, and “the product is very good.”