GUELPH, Ont. — The Guelph Nighthawks are moving to Calgary.
In a strategic move to a bigger market, the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) announced Wednesday that the Guelph franchise will call Calgary home as of the 2023 season, and will play at WinSport Events Centre.
The team's new nickname, logo and colours will be unveiled in the fall.
"Our league has experienced growth that has already exceeded the expectations we had when we launched in 2018," said Mike Morreale, the league's commissioner and co-founder. "When we launched the CEBL it made sense for Guelph to be among our founding franchises.
"However, as the CEBL grows a team playing in Canada's 46th largest market simply won't be able to remain competitive financially with the other teams in the league."
Morreale said the Nighthawks received strong support from Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie, the city and the Sleeman Centre.
However, he said there was a ceiling to that market, and relocating to Canada's third-largest city "aligns with our vision for future expansion into tier one markets and enables the CEBL to continue to make a strong impact on the growth of basketball in the country."
The Nighthawks posted a 25-37 record through four seasons, and went 10-10 this past season. They upset the Fraser Valley Bandits in an opening-round playoff game, before being eliminated by second-seed Niagara in the quarterfinals.
"Our organization is very proud of all we accomplished in delivering world class basketball to our fans during our four seasons in Guelph," team president Cameron Kusch said in a statement. "The time, commitment and support of Nighthawks basketball by the community of Guelph is something that I will never forget and will be eternally grateful for."
The CEBL held its home games of the Basketball Champions League Americas (BCLA) in March at WinSport in Calgary.
The league pointed to Calgary's growing basketball culture, noting that basketball enrolment in the city has more than doubled in the past seven years. The University of Calgary men's basketball team has been among the best in U Sports for years.
The CEBL launched in 2018 with six teams in four provinces, and has since expanded to 10 teams in six provinces. Canadian players made up 71 per cent of team rosters in 2022.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2022.
The Canadian Press