NBA bouncing back to Vancouver?Aquilini worries basketball would harm dominant Canucks
By BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY
Could the NBA return to Vancouver?
Commissioner David Stern, in a Tuesday interview with ESPN, was asked about cities that have shown interest in relocating a team, such as the league-owned New Orleans Hornets.
"I think maybe or maybe not on my watch, when Seattle has plans for a new building, I think it's a very prime city for an NBA franchise,” Stern told ESPN’s Bill Simmons. “We've been visited or contacted by three different groups that are putting up a building in Las Vegas.... We've had visits from Anaheim, we've had visits from, believe it or not, Vancouver."
QMI asked Francesco Aquilini, who owns both Rogers Arena and the Vancouver Canucks, after a Jan. 21 Board of Trade lunch whether he was interested.
Aquilini pointed out that the 1995 expansion Vancouver Grizzlies floundered at the box office and struggled when the Canadian dollar was low before leaving for Memphis in 2001.
The loonie has been trading at or near par with the U.S. greenback and Aquilini said the capital costs of a new team would be negligible. It would come at the expense of hockey’s Vancouver Canucks, who dominate the sports ticket, sponsorship and broadcast market in British Columbia.
“We still have the floor, the hoops are here, everything's here, you could start tomorrow, you wouldn't have to make any new capital investments,” Aquilini said. “We've got a really good thing going with hockey here, to bring an NBA team you could jeopardize that.
“We heard stories of how the (Grizzlies) players didn't want to play here. Vancouver's not culturally a basketball town. Vancouver's a hockey town. Maybe one day in the future. The economy is growing, Vancouver is 50 percent bigger than it was 10 years ago, there could come a point in time where we could really look at that seriously.”