Canucks COO Victor de Bonis says NBA would work in Vancouver
By Brady Henderson
Canucks Chief Operating Officer Victor de Bonis said the speculation of the NBA’s return to Vancouver might be a little premature, but is confident that a professional basketball team would be more successful in Vancouver the second time around.
de Bonis (pictured) joined the Calabro show on Wednesday, the same day a Canadian newspaper reported that Canucks ownership is interested in buying and relocating the New Orleans Hornets to Vancouver.
“All we’ve really done is have an introductory meeting in New York in mid-January,” de Bonis said in reference to what NBA commisioner David Stern said earlier this week about the possibility of the NBA returning to Vancouver.
“Our ownership group wanted to meet the commissioner and get his thoughts on the league and his experience (of) when we had the team here in Vancouver,” de Bonis said. “I think that’s what really prompted the comment from the commissioner earlier.”
Stern told Bill Simmons of ESPN on Monday that Vancouver is one of several markets that have expressed interest in taking on a relocated NBA team. de Bonis said he was somewhat surprised by Stern’s comments given the limited discussions.
The Hornets were purchased last year by the NBA, which according to Stern, wants to sell the team to an ownership group that will keep it in New Orleans.
“There (is) no shortage of suitors who have contacted us who want to buy the team and take it someplace else,â€ Stern told Simmons, calling Seattle a “prime” NBA city and listing several others with NBA-ready arenas. “That would not be our first choice at all. That’s not why we stepped in and bought the team.”
Should Vancouver land the Hornets, it would be the second time the city has been home to an NBA team. The Grizzlies entered the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1995. But after six seasons with no playoff appearances, the team relocated to Memphis in 2001.
“It was a combination of factors,” de Bonis said of why the Grizzlies didn’t work out in Vancouver. “The fan support was outstanding from Day 1. Having both an NHL team and an NBA team in our market at the same time was challenging because of the corporate dollars that were in the market. The Canadian-US dollar differential was quite significant then. The team’s performance was challenging. Also, at the time the hockey club wasn’t performing well. So it was really a double-whammy from that perspective.”
de Bonis said Vancouver is better-suited to host an NBA franchise now.
“I think our market has changed. It’s grown,” he said. “There are different groups here that are very focused on basketball and entertainment events. Obviously, the US-Canadian dollar is at par now, which is quite significant.”
de Bonis said Rogers Arena, which is home to the Canucks and formerly the Grizzlies, would need a few minor tweaks, but is still a viable venue for the NBA.
“It wouldn’t be too much of a challenge to bring in another sporting team that can play in a venue like ours,” he said.