Well it looks like this time it's serious for a D-League in Hamilton, I really hope it happens.
Hey, it ain't the NBA ...
But Raptors placing a D-League farm team in Copps will draw drafted players
January 16, 2008
The Hamilton Spectator
]Talks are under way that could bring a new Toronto Raptors' farm team to Hamilton.
However, there's differing opinions on how close any such deal is to being consummated.
Two sources familiar with the situation made clear yesterday that Copps Coliseum is one of two locations being considered -- Oshawa is the other -- for a franchise that would begin play either this fall or next in the NBA's Developmental League.
Outside of the NBA itself, the D-League is considered the highest-level basketball in North America. Dozens of players have moved through the system and jumped to the NBA, including the Raptors' Jamario Moon, former Raptor and current Houston Rocket Rafer Alston, and Sacramento's Mikki Moore.
One source says Hamilton is the clear front-runner for a team and put the chances of one landing here at 81/2 out of 10. Barring unforeseen glitches, the source said things could be finalized very quickly.
"I would say within weeks."
A second source insists Hamilton is in the mix, but says things aren't quite that far along and putting any deal together would almost certainly take longer than that, if it happened at all.
However, in a Toronto Star report yesterday, Raptors' president Bryan Colangelo said he's been considering for some time the possibility of starting a team in southern Ontario as a way to have better control over the development of some of his non-roster players.
"We're exploring possible involvement similar to what you see in Los Angeles and San Antonio," Colangelo told The Star.
Those two cities have their own D-League teams -- unlike most NBA teams which share with one or two others -- nearby in Los Angeles and Austin. That allows a team to have its hand-selected coaches implement its philosophy and its systems, so players who are called up are already familiar with how things run and are ready to step in and play immediately.
The Raptors share a franchise in Colorado with the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets.
This entire situation muddies the water significantly for the arrival of a previously announced American Basketball Association team that vowed to set up shop at Copps but has yet to sign a lease.
Brian Luckman, the owner of that team -- nicknamed the Hamilton Rockstars -- couldn't be reached for comment last night. However, the CEO of Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. that operates Copps says negotiations with Luckman have at least temporarily stopped, meaning that while the Raptors have not yet stepped forward to express interest, the door is open to them if they want to talk.
"Negotiations with the ABA are on hold at the moment," Duncan Gillespie says.
"Nothing precludes HECFI from negotiating with any party at this point."
Gillespie stressed that he's exceedingly interested in finding a second pro sports franchise for the arena.
Truth is, given a choice between the D-League and the ABA, most would argue the former is a far superior situation for this city.
While the ABA has had its share of difficulties, plays in smaller arenas, is scheduled to usher in as many as 49 expansion franchises next season, and is seen as the most minor of minor leagues, the D-League comes with the weight and significant resources of the National Basketball Association brand.
Stocked with drafted players in their first or second year of pro hoops and top undrafted players, the level of play is high and those involved are hungry to make the jump to the next level.
Further, with the Raptors clearly interested in further developing their fan base throughout southern Ontario, a team here would be properly financed and carefully run.
"It would work," says local businessman and basketball legend Ron Foxcroft. "They'd probably get 4,000-5,000 people. Hamilton is no doubt a (basketball) hotbed and most important, it's affordable."
Throughout the league, tickets range in price from a high of $148 for a courtside seat in Anaheim, to $5 for a seat in Bakersfield, Calif. Most tickets come in between $8 and $25.
Foxcroft believes the connection with basketball's best league alone would be beneficial to the city's image.
"Having that NBA brand associated with Hamilton and Copps Coliseum would be nothing but a plus."