Professional basketball is coming back to Meadowbank.
Scotland will soon have two teams in the British Basketball League after the BBL gave the green light to American entrepreneur Donald Sampley to enter a team based at Meadowbank in season 2014-15, joining Glasgow Rocks in the legue.
“It’s a done deal,” said Sampley. “It’s the culmination of three long years of hard work.”
The biggest surprise is the name of the new team which is to be called “East Scotland Warriors”.
Most people assumed that the name would include either Edinburgh or Meadowbank, but Sampley insists that the new franchise has a much wider area than just the Capital and will go right up to include Aberdeen.
“My first tasks include meeting with clubs from Aberdeen to Edinburgh, organising my skills academy, developing corporate relations and meeting with BasketballScotland to discuss programmes I want to implement,” said Sampley, who has organised a similar programme in St Louis, US.
“This has been a three-year journey and I cannot describe how difficult it has been to get to this point – but we made it.”
“I’m very excited to be part of pro basketball returning to the city of Edinburgh. I’m
really looking forward to working with everyone in the East Scotland basketball community to grow the game and help put Scotland’s youth players on a pathway to the pros.”
The BBL confirmed the news in the following statement: “We’re delighted to announce that we’ve agreed terms for a new franchise to be based in Edinburgh and called ‘East Scotland Warriors’.
“The new club will commence participation in BBL competition for the 2014-1015 season and will be based at the 2400-seat Meadowbank arena.
“The club will be commencing work on their community plans in the coming weeks.”
It is more than ten years since the then Edinburgh Rocks, who entered the BBL in 1998, left Meadowbank and moved west to become first the Scottish Rocks, playing out of Braehead Arena, and later the Glasgow Rocks, playing first at the Kelvin Hall and now at the new Emirates Arena where the BBL Trophy final will again be held next March.
Another club in Edinburgh can only be good for developing the game and building up crowd support, but among the questions still to be answered are: who are the new club’s backers? Where will the Warriors find their players, at least initially, to put a credible competitive team on the floor, and who will be their coach?