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Miracles of Moncton

Friday Mar 24, 2017 in From the Desk of the Commish by   (5) comments

Miracles of Moncton

As we move towards the final stretch run of this season, I want to take a moment & share how much of a "miracle" it is that we have a franchise in Moncton.
 
This market has defied conventional wisdom and has been able to remain viable & promising REGARDLESS of the optics...
 
An American young lady Kim Blanco, with the help of a dedicated city employee named Ian Fowler brought an exciting concept to the great city of Moncton.
 
With the help of a wonderful marketing genius named Bill Whalen they have an incredible announcement & kick off an original team in the newly formed National Basketball League of Canada.
 
Unfortunately the community loses Ian  before the team ever plays its first game.
 
This alone would have certainly "doomed", most franchises, but not Moncton & not in this great league.
 
Kim comes in and befriends many local folk, including long time educator Norvall McConnell to help promote & impact the local community.
 
The team struggles in year #1 but the city is falling in love with them.  In year #2, Coach Dennis Truex, league MVP Devin Sweetney & dominant big man Isaac Butts help the franchise to a 20-20, regular season & a 1st round play off win.  The energy in the Moncton Coliseum is electric and  the future looks incredible.
 
Year #3 wasn't as good on the floor & for personal reasons Kim returned to her home in the USA, prior to the start of year #4 & Norvall opted to take some time away.
 
This alone would have certainly "doomed", most franchises, but not Moncton & not in this great league.
 
The owners of (4) franchises come out of their own pockets to keep a team in this thriving municipality.
 
Joe Salerno Sr. is hired a few days before the start of the season to help run things and with local coach Serge Langis a competitive product is brought to market.  Coach Langis has a great January that year & earns Coach of the Month.  Injuries & an inability to staff the bench properly because of costs, creates yet another losing season.
 
Fan interaction & support remain solid, helped by Dee Steeves & Andrea Milburn who create a "fan club", that serves to "fill in" where ever & when ever needed.
 
With starting late it's difficult to generate a lot of revenue from sponsorships BUT the good news is Joe has managed to pull a local group together to buy the franchise...  UNTIL GAME 7 happens in our championship series and the deal fell through.
 
This alone would have certainly "doomed", most franchises, but not Moncton & not in this great league.
 
At that point I became commissioner and we had to have the hard discussion of what to do with a franchise losing money, without real local owner prospects, and no momentum from community involvement (without  Norvall) the previous year.
 
I met with the (4) current franchise owners with money invested & we looked at the potential of the market and determined it's worth another shot.  We determined if Norvall would come back & a few of the investors who backed out would be open, we'd make a go at it.
 
Brennan Bellamare transitioned from a volunteer to a GM & turned down a pay check because it was "what the franchise needed"...
 
The team set a record for personal appearances for any team that year.  We had a record game of 6,400 fans who came out to honor Ian Fowler.  The team had some good runs & a local ownership group stepped forward.
 
Sometime during year #5, Steve Trueman, long time Moncton City Solicitor agreed to join the executive team as President & provide the local face & direction the club sorely needed.
 
A press conference occurred and all looked great...  The new group went out and began promoting the team & generating real momentum and the group for their own reasons, opted to not go forward some time mid summer. 
 
This alone would have certainly "doomed", most franchises, but not Moncton & not in this great league.
 
With Steve's help we put together (2) different local groups that we simply weren't able to finalize prior to the start of this season.
 
The one thing we had going for us was one local owner who remained committed to helping put together the rest of the group.
 
We also had our constants, a Booster Club, committed fans, some sponsors the earlier group had gotten, INCREDIBLE VOLUNTEERS: Steve, Doug, Laura, Ron, Heidi, Dwayne & tons of game day staff...
 
Plus a veteran GM/Head Coach in Coach Mo, who could still field a team, even at the last minute.
 
With that the league agreed to support one more season & off we go.
 
I believe that this story has a happy ending & that there will be good news of a local group who buy & keep this franchise in Moncton as long as there is an NBL Canada BUT regardless of the outcome I have to say THANK YOU to the amazing people of Moncton & this social experiment called the "Miracles":
 
- Kim for bringing the team there & committing your resources & time
- Joe Sr & Struan Smith for your year of great effort
- Norvall for giving SO MUCH & working for SO LITTLE, your passion & reputation helped this thing stay alive
- Brennan & Alison Foster for all of your behind the scenes work
- Ricci & Wendy for having a great vision for what this could be & rolling up your sleeves & showing us...
- Doug for stepping in to roles you weren't asked to but needed to
- Ron for the over the top commitment to capture images like none other
- Dwayne for the coverage & support
- Steve for staying the course as a President without a pay check BUT owning the emotional stress of taking personal the survival of the franchise 
- All of the incredible team sponsors, who feed our guys, promote our team, print up pictures & help fund this to stay alive
- Faithful season ticket holders & passionate fans
- The only Booster Club in the league
- All the coaches over the years who haven't always competed with full salary caps
- Maurice Belliveau & the Moncton City Council who have supported this team financially & helped keep us alive
- Anyone I haven't mentioned by name please forgive me, because ALL of you have contributed so much!!!
 
WITH THIS AS A BASIS THE FUTURE HAS NEVER BEEN BRIGHTER:
 
- Local owners will provide stability
- A full offseason to promote & sell
- The NEW downtown arena will make games destination events in 2018-19
- Increased revenues will create a greater chance to be competitive 
- The tri-city area of Moncton/Dieppe/Riverview are growing & becoming more important to the maritime's region, every year!!!
 
If asked, what is a Moncton Miracle, my answer is simple, the people of a magical place who love their community & remain faithful through it all...
 
THANK YOU CITY OF MONCTON & MUCH LOVE!!!

Reader Comments

Pat Murphy Monday Mar 27, 2017 11:49 AM
Great article, just to think if the turmoil had not been as indicated where would the Moncton franchise be today, Kim had gave it a good start however it has been tarnished since Still no info on ownership and where we are headed It would be nice to see it finalized and have a positive outlook for next season, seen a lot of positives this year, I give Steve Trueman and his group a lot of credit for keeping this alive We have been there from year one as a season ticket holder and will be there again in 2017/18
Marlene Robertson Saturday Mar 25, 2017 10:05 AM
Thanks for everyone hard work that gave us fans another season of basketball ,we love so much .This year has did a lot at each games prizes giving out to fans ,VIP room one hour before each game ,sign pictures of players and so much more .Been season ticket holder from day one missed one game in six season to go see the Raptors Game ,but Thanks to the stream I got to watch the Miracles well at a NBA game at half time .Special thanks to Mags for all his had work he has done with this league ,being away from his family .Hoping we will have a team next season .Ine thing I like to see is our cheerleaders back as they bring energy out to the fans Thanks NBL Staff for all your hard work Marlene Robertson
Bernie & Dave Donelle Saturday Mar 25, 2017 07:30 AM
Great summary of the growth of the Moncton Miracles and the unending support and enthusiasm of the fans of the team. We have been going to the games since the very beginning of the team and finally this year bought season tickets; which we plan on doing each and every year forward. We really enjoy the games which are exciting and also entertaining. The support of the city, the league, the sponsors, the volunteers, the fans is what Moncton is all about. I sincerely hope that we have this team for years to come and that we can have financial success as well. Congrats to the the team, not only for their hard work and recent expected success on the court, but also on their continued extensive community involvement. Great article Commish and thanks for your support as well.
R. Battis Friday Mar 24, 2017 10:28 PM
Love the game, love the efforts. - lets put half time stats up on the screen to show fans who is playing well, scoring, 3 pointers, assists, rebounds, etc. - stop the stupid bean bag thing and the over done dress kids in large shoes and shoot on net. Surely new events can be researched from other teams around the world and tried for some variety. - mix up the music played more, fewer repeats. - put a player picture on the score board a couple of times per game with hometown, college, age, experience, any special info, stats etc. - make sure next year (if operating) that the schedule does not leave the huge gaps in home games, that allows interest to lag and do not let them play several home games in a row like last week or Maritime teams back to back. For someone who buys tickets and takes a kid , the costs are too high for multiple games in a row. - if you run promotions in the crowd using the camera, stop using the section behind the announcer for the majority of promos because it is easier to show. - Ok, my rant is over
Marc Gaudet Friday Mar 24, 2017 09:48 PM
Thanks David, it means alot
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