Arena closure forces CEBL defending champion Honey Badgers to move to Brampton

The closure of their home arena is forcing the Hamilton Honey Badgers to move to Brampton, Ont.

The reigning Canadian Elite Basketball League champions announced Monday they are relocating permanently due to FirstOntario Centre's closure for renovations during the 2024 and '25 seasons.

They'll open the 2023 season at Brampton's 5,000-seat CAA Centre.

The team and league said they received notice on Nov. 11 about the impending closure.

"It is extremely disappointing that one of our original franchises and the 2022 CEBL champions are forced to relocate due to circumstances beyond our control," said CEBL commissioner and co-founder Mike Morreale.

"We launched the Hamilton Honey Badgers in 2019 and worked tirelessly through a pandemic that limited us to having fans in the stands for only 14 games in three seasons before a successful 2022 championship run. The desire was to continue to build on that success, although the threat of the arena renovations always loomed and new opportunities needed to be found."

Morreale said the Honey Badgers more than doubled their sponsorship support since 2019, and attendance was up 25 per cent this past season. But the extent and duration of the renovations at FirstOntario Centre left them no choice but to move.

"We really like the Hamilton-Burlington market," Morreale said. "When the time comes that FirstOntario Centre is finally renovated, or another suitable arena gets built in the region, we will certainly entertain the possibility of putting a new team back in the area." The CEBL features 10 teams in six provinces, with franchises located in Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Scarborough, Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Niagara (St. Catharines), Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), and Brampton.

The renovations to Hamilton's arena also affect the Ontario Hockey League's Bulldogs and National Lacrosse League's Toronto Rock.

The Rock have said they are in the process of looking for a new venue to host games for the 2023-24 NLL season and some or all of the 2024-25 campaign before returning to the renovated FirstOntario Centre.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

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