The Summerside Storm and the Charlottetown Civic Centre have had discussions over a potential move to the P.E.I. capital, The Guardian has learned.
Duncan Shaw, who co-owns the team with Darren MacKay, didn’t deny talks have been held but said they are still negotiating with the City of Summerside over staying at Credit Union Place.
The Storm signed a one-year contract with Summerside last year.
“We’re negotiating with Summerside and we’ve got backup plans,’’ Shaw said Wednesday. “We don’t have an agreement signed anywhere yet so we’re trying to keep our options open.’’
Shaw said the team is happy with the support it received in its first season in the National Basketball League of Canada.
“We had 4,000 (fans) at the last game with two teams out of the playoffs. I think that says it all. It’s been fantastic (and) it’s a beautiful facility,’’ the team’s co-owner says.
“We’re negotiating to see what we can come up with (in Summerside) and just trying to keep lots of balls in the air so I have somewhere to put a basketball team on the court next year.’’
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says no one from the Storm organization has contacted him about a potential move.
“I have heard the rumours but nobody from the organization has contacted me to have any discussions,’’ Lee said.
The Storm had been in negotiations with Charlottetown before the team’s inaugural season but talks broke down. If the Storm was to move, Charlottetown would need a basketball floor and could cost as much as $200,000.
“We’d have to get a floor from somewhere,’’ Shaw said. “Whether the city (of Charlottetown) bought one or we bought one and adjusted for rent . . . it is an issue.’’
Management with the Civic Centre, general manager Dave McGrath and board chair John Abbott were spotted at a recent Storm game in Summerside while Shaw and his family were checking out the atmosphere at the Civic Centre during a recent P.E.I. Rocket game, all leading to more speculation.
Abbott said discussions haven’t progressed to the point where anything is imminent.
“None that have gone as far as ‘do you want to move’?’’ Abbott said. “For (the Storm), it’s more about can we accommodate them. We can do anything if that’s what happens.’’
Abbott said the Rocket, as the Civic Centre’s major tenant, would have to be consulted on any changes.
Abbott said he wishes the Storm the best of luck in hammering out a deal in Summerside but the door to the Civic Centre’s board of directors remains wide open.
“We’re open for business,’’ he said. “We’d love to have them.’’
Shaw said he’d like to sign a deal somewhere soon.
“The league wants us to nail down a lease.’’