Winnipeg Sea Bears unveiled as city’s entry into Canadian Elite Basketball League

Professional basketball is bouncing back to Winnipeg.

The ownership behind the city’s venture into the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) unveiled the franchise’s name Wednesday — the Winnipeg Sea Bears.

Read more: Canadian Elite Basketball League to expand to Winnipeg in 2023

The team, owned by Winnipeg businessman and lawyer David Asper, will tip off the 2023 season at the Canada Life Centre.

“Manitoba has a historically strong basketball community that is growing every year both organically and as a sport that is easy for all people to participate in,” Asper said in a release.

Click to play video: 'Raptors success sparks basketball interest in Manitoba'

Raptors success sparks basketball interest in Manitoba

“Basketball has the power to include and unite, and the Winnipeg Sea Bears will serve an important role in further fostering those values.”

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According to a release from the owners, the Sea Bears nickname was chosen in honour of the polar bear, whose Latin name, Ursus maritimus, means “sea bear.”

The official team colours of the Sea Bears are teal, white and black and the franchise will become the first CEBL club to play in a National Hockey League arena.

Winnipeg was previously home to the Cyclone of the now-defunct International Basketball Association from 1995 to 2001, which came after the Winnipeg Thunder (1992 to 1994) of the World Basketball League, followed by the National Basketball League.

League commissioner and co-founder Mike Morreale said Winnipeg is an ideal market for the CEBL, with a rich basketball history that dates back 120 years and a location that unifies the league’s geographic reach from British Columbia to Quebec.

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“Winnipeg was a target market since the CEBL launched in 2018 and we’ve been waiting for an exceptional owner to emerge who shares our passion for the sport and for community development,” Morreale said in a release.

“David Asper is a lifelong community builder with a deep love for Winnipeg and we are thrilled to welcome him to our board of owners.”

Read more: New outdoor basketball court is coming to Sinclair Park Community Centre

The CEBL has grown from six teams in its inaugural season to 10 with the addition of Winnipeg.

There has also been some recent movement, with the Guelph Nighthawks franchise relocating to Calgary to become the Surge and Hamilton becoming the Brampton Honey Badgers. Meanwhile, the league folded a team in St. John’s, N.L., after the 2022 season.

— with files from The Canadian Press and Sam Thompson

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

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