Published online at Edmonton.Ctvnews.ca on Jan. 11, 2013.
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton: January 11, 2013
Canada’s national basketball training program could be held in Edmonton
Edmonton could soon be home to Canada’s national basketball training program.
The proposal, which will be presented to city council on Monday, puts forward the idea of bringing Canada’s national basketball teams to Edmonton, to train at the Saville Community Sports Centre, for the next four years.
Local basketball organizers love the proposal, not only because of the opportunities it presents in terms of the future success of those teams internationally, but also because of the potential benefits it will have in Edmonton.
If a proposal moves forward through council, the Saville Community Sports Centre would play host to the national basketball training program.
“I think the cornerstone, the foundational principal of this has been that these national teams will contribute back to the community,” said Paul Sir, executive director of Basketball Alberta.
“There will be actual opportunities for kids in all economic groups to be able to work with national team players in the various age groups around the city. We really feel the trickle-down potential of influence, both in terms of basketball skill development but also life-skill development will be tremendous.”
The report also suggests having national basketball teams train in the city would increase Edmonton’s profile on a national and international scale.
There’s talk that having NBA star Steve Nash, who is general manager for the senior men’s team, in Edmonton, would also enhance the city’s profile and there would also be an economic impact.
The proposal would run from 2013 through to 2016, with an option of first right for renewal going to the city. The proposed training schedules would amount to a total of more than 200 annual training days, up from the current 100 training days for nine of the ten teams. The tenth team – Canada’s senior men’s, would train on a part-time basis.
The extra training is part of a big push to prepare the country’s senior men’s and women’s teams for the Olympics in both 2016 and 2020.
“We feel, and people across the country and around the world are really watching Canada. The men’s team is really growing in leaps and bounds in terms of talents,” Sir said.
“People in Canada expect and hope that this team will reach its potential and reach the podium and medal over the next two Olympics. It’s very exciting.”
The report says the enhanced training program includes extra training team, an increased emphasis on coaching, education and development, the development of officials as well as increased marketing and communications capacity.
While the Saville Centre is already used quite a bit by local teams, Greg Lembke, the manager of the centre, doesn’t think the plan to bring the national training program to Edmonton would reduce local access.
“We have had discussions as to how it would affect what we do have coming in and out of the building. At this point in time, we don’t see it affecting what we have locally coming into the building at this point in time rather than supporting and supplementing what we already have,” Lembke said.
Lembke said hosting the national training program would be beneficial for the centre and for the city.
“In the bigger picture it would be a financial benefit to the facility in itself for sure,” Lembke said.
“There are larger ties when you throw the community aspect into it. There’s obvious benefit to Edmonton in housing this program and the athletes , coaching, support staff coming into town, as well as the development of those grassroots programs, supporting basketball programs throughout the city.”
The proposal will be presented and discussed at an executive committee on Monday.
Coun. Amarjeet Sohi is open to the idea.
“We have a good facility in our city and the number of courts available are available for practice and leading up to the Olympics, it’s all of those things that I think it does make sense for us to partner with them,” Sohi said.
If council decides to vote the plan forward, it would cost the City of Edmonton $500,000 a year over the next four years, which would be subject to an annual contribution of $1.9 million from the Alberta government and $150,000 annually from the University of Alberta.
With files from Laura Tupper