CEBL's Guelph Nighthawks pulling up stakes, moving to Calgary for next season

The Guelph Nighthawks are no more.

Team president Cameron Kusch told CJOY in Guelph, Ont., Wednesday that the Canadian Elite Basketball League are relocating the Nighthawks to Calgary for the 2023 season.

He said it was the league’s decision to move the team out west.

“As the league has evolved from 2019 to 2022, we realize the league is a big-market league,” Kusch said, “and it needs to be in larger media markets in order to grow and expand. Unfortunately, that meant that the Guelph team was going to move to Calgary.”

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Kusch adds the community support has been great in the four years the team has been in Guelph and that had nothing to do with the decision to move.

All the teams that play in the CEBL are owned by the league and Kusch said he had no say in the decision.

“The league went to Calgary for the Basketball Champions League of America tournament this past March,” said Kusch. “It was at that point that the league identified Calgary as a market that they wanted to get in to. They didn’t know at that time that ultimately Guelph was going to be the team that would move to that city.”

Kusch said it was tough breaking the news to his staff adding he can’t thank them enough for making the organization in Guelph a success.

“I can tell you there were some tears shed when the news was shared,” said Kusch.

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The Nighthawks were one of six original teams when the CEBL formed in 2018.

Kusch recalled the first-ever Nighthawks home game in Guelph, a loss to the Saskatchewan Rattlers on May 11, 2019.

“That first game at the Sleeman Centre, we ended up losing by 20 points,” he said. “But the crowd stood up and gave a rousing ovation as the team exited the court. It was a moment that still gives me goose bumps to this day.”

League commissioner and co-founder Mike Morreale said in a statement that having the Nighthawks play in the 46th-largest Canadian market meant there was a ceiling despite strong support from Mayor Cam Guthrie, the City of Guelph and Sleeman Centre staff.

“Relocating to the third-largest city in Canada 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,” said Morreale.

The new Calgary team has not announced a new name or logo but will be playing out of the WinSport Event Centre for the 2023 season.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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