I have a friend who is a big basketball fan and who absolutely, positively does not want to have anything to do with the Halifax Hurricanes. After last year’s debacle with the now-defunct Halifax Rainmen, where they forfeited game 7 of the NBL Finals to Windsor (and then folded the franchise after filing for bankruptcy), he vowed never to have anything to do with pro basketball in Halifax again.
I understand his skepticism. Like my friend, I bought into the Rainmen last year during their playoff run (after having been impressed by a couple of regular season games), and I was appalled when the season ended the way it did. Some of the same people who were involved with the Rainmen are now involved with the Hurricanes, most notably Rainmen owner Andre Levingston, who is part of the ownership group for the Hurricanes. That was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for my friend.
But here’s the thing – this is a new team. Levingston is apparently being restricted to basketball operations, which is what he seems to be good at, whilst the overall business management of the new franchise has been placed in the hands of the rest of the ownership group, all of whom are prominent local business people. That’s a reassuring step that points to a stability the Rainmen never had on the business side.
Most important, the product on the court is good, and getting better with each game. My folks got my brother and me 5-game flex voucher packs for Christmas, and we have gone to see four of the first four home games. It’s up-tempo, exciting basketball, and the players (only one of whom was with the Rainmen last year) give it their all each and every time they hit the court. They also seem to be making a genuine effort to connect with the fans, staying behind after the games to mingle and sign autographs and so forth, and undertaking community outreach. The cheerleaders and mascot work hard as well. It’s all still a little rough around the edges in terms of creating the best fan experience (they really need to lower the volume on the music, for example, and their website is still very much a work-in-progress), but they are off to a good start.
Crowds have been small – maybe 1,000 each time (although one wonders how many people are actually paying customers, and how many have complimentary tickets). That’s not nearly enough to sustain the franchise in the long run, but it’s early days for the Hurricanes. However, even though they are a new franchise, they will still get tarred with the brush of the Rainmen disaster, which has soured a lot of fans – including my friend. Whether it is fair or not, that is the cross they have to bear, and the hurdle they have to overcome.
But I’m a big believer in second chances. So far, the Hurricanes are putting an exciting product on the floor, and in the end that’s what really counts to me. I hope it’s what also counts for more and more Haligonians as the season stretches on, because I think the Hurricanes are probably the last opportunity for professional basketball to make a go of it in the Halifax market for many, many years. It would be a shame not to give it one last chance.
Anyone who enjoys quality hoops action owes it to themselves to give the new team a look. You won’t be disappointed.
Latest posts by Paul Andrew Kimball (see all)
- McNeil Government’s Culture Action Plan – All Talk, No Action - February 23, 2017
- “First Features” Film Series Begins at Dalhousie Art Gallery - January 17, 2017
- View 902 Podcast Episode 3 – Silver Donald Cameron - January 5, 2017