New Glebe sports teams!

67’s goaltender Cedrick Andree makes a glove save during a game against Windsor on February 16.  
Photo: Valerie Wutti

New pro basketball and soccer teams in the neighbourhood this year

By Trevor Greenway

Line Lonnum wasn’t even a hockey fan when she moved to the Glebe in 2018. She had been to a couple of Ottawa Senators games but wasn’t wowed by Canada’s game.

That was until she saw the Ottawa 67’s play. Nowadays, you can spot Lonnum in the stands at every home game. She’s garbed from head to toe in 67’s gear, usually with her Noel Hoefenmayer jersey on (he’s her favourite player). If the 67’s are skating on the canal, doing deeds in the community or making any sort of public appearance, she’s usually close by.

“I go to every home game. I just love this team,” says Lonnum. “I see them out in the community and I even have my own jersey. I’m a superfan.”

Lonnum immigrated from Norway in 2014 and later moved to the Glebe. She says sporting events encouraged her to explore the community, try local restaurants and just get out to meet her neighbours. She’s since met tons of 67’s pals with whom she cheers on her beloved barber poles.

“It has been a great way to get out and get to know the community,” adds Lonnum.

It’s this type of unity that sports can create. Far more than just a game, sports brings people together. They gather fans under one common cause. They bring together neighbourhoods, cities, even the entire country when national pride is on the line. They welcome newcomers into a neighbourhood and empower them to get involved in their communities. This is what the 67’s, Redblacks and Fury FC have done for Lonnum.

“It’s a really cool way to gather people and for me to meet my neighbours,” she said.

And there is no shortage of games close to home this spring. (Or maybe not – see box!) The 67’s are on fire, leading the OHL heading into the playoffs, and are expected to make a push for a Memorial Cup berth. The Redblacks are set to introduce Nick Arbuckle as their quarterback of the future and have signed a myriad of players with the aim to improve after last season’s challenges. While we lost our beloved Ottawa Fury FC soccer club, it didn’t take long for the beautiful game to return to the nation’s capital as Atlético Madrid announced a partnership with the Canadian Premier League to bring a new soccer team to Ottawa. The new Atlético Ottawa begin play on the road in Hamilton on April 18, with their first home game slated for May 16 at TD Place Stadium.

On top of all that, the Glebe will also see a brand new professional basketball team toss buckets at TD Place this spring as the Ottawa BlackJacks will start inviting fans to “come for the party and stay for the basketball.”

While Ottawa is known as a hockey town and a football town, BlackJacks president Michael Cvitkovic says the nation’s capital is and always has been a “basketball hotbed.” With the Raptors winning last year’s NBA title and the Carleton Ravens’ unparalleled success in winning 14 national titles, Ottawa has always been a city of ballers and youth registration is increasing, says Cvitkovic.

“There is a community here that is much larger than some realize that are big basketball fans,” he says. “We are obviously taking advantage of the hype of basketball right now. This is the right time and we have the right business model in place, but it is the community basketball program that is really the lifeblood of everything basketball in this city.”

He’s seen the support already. The Ottawa BlackJacks are leading the entire Canadian Elite Basketball League in season-ticket sales. While the goal is to get between 2,800 and 3,000 fans to each home game, Cvitkovic says “the sky is the limit” after seeing nearly 8,000 fans pack into TD Place for the Capital Hoops rivalry game between Carleton and the University of Ottawa last month.

If you’ve ever taken in a pro basketball ball game, you know how unique the experience is. From the moment you walk into TD Place, the party will be on with a live DJ spinning tunes and top-notch entertainment during halftime.

“The great thing about basketball is that it transcends sports,” adds Cvitkovic. “Music is such an important part of it and fashion is as well and entertainment. The who’s who wants to be sitting courtside. It’s the place to be. That excitement is what we want to create.”

The BlackJacks play their first game May 7 in Niagara before coming home for their highly anticipated home opener May 14.

Trevor Greenway is responsible for communications at the Glebe BIA (Business Improvement Area).

Sports on hold

The day after the NBA put its basketball season on hold because of the coronavirus, pro hockey, baseball and soccer followed suit, setting off a cascade of cancellations and postponements throughout the sports world. Ottawa is not immune. The Ottawa 67’s push for the Memorial 
Cup was put in jeopardy when the Canadian Hockey League suspended play in all its leagues until further notice. As the Glebe Report went to press, the Ottawa BlackJacks and Atlético Ottawa were awaiting word on the start of their seasons in April and May respectively as their leagues continued to monitor the situation.

On March 12, Hockey Canada ended the minor hockey season right across the country. On March 13, the University of Ottawa’s men’s hockey team was about to play its first game at the national championships in Halifax when the tournament, already underway, was cancelled.

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