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Basketball coming to Mile One this fall

Mile One Centre will see the arrival of professional basketball in November.
Mile One Centre will see the arrival of professional basketball in November.

St. John’s City Council on Monday approved the operation of a professional basketball team at Mile One Centre for the 2017-18 season.

Sheena McCrate, CEO of St. John’s Sports & Entertainment (SJSE), told The Telegram that after months of negotiations, she is pleased to have the deal locked down.

“This is a 6,000-seat building,” said McCrate. “This is exactly what you want, something for people to come out and support.”

The deal guarantees 20 regular season home games for a St. John’s expansion team in the National Basketball League of Canada, with the possibility of playoff games, depending on how successful the team is.

“The deal itself is compromised of corporate sponsorship,” said McCrate. “As a privilege, they get tickets to the game.”

Through corporate partnership, the amount of revenue in the building is $855,000.

The deal will not result in any increase in the city’s subsidy to St. John’s Sports & Entertainment, provided people attend the games.

“This is going to generate some much-needed economic activity,” said Mayor Dennis O’Keefe.

For hockey fans, all hope is not lost.

“This league exists in buildings where there are both hockey and basketball teams,” said McCrate. “It’s not unlikely that sometime down the road we will land a hockey team as well. This ownership group has particular interest in bringing hockey. So we will be working with them to hopefully make that happen for next season, or the following season.

“There is a tentative schedule right now, which will run from the middle of November to the middle of April.”

McCrate told The Telegram that the team plans to start on the road in order to give more time to prepare Mile One Centre.

“This agreement is for five years, but we’re hoping it’s the start of what could be a multi-year deal after that,” said McCrate. “It depends on how much people come out and support the team.”

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