Basketball is coming to Quebec. The Canadian Elite Basketball League has announced its ninth franchise, the Montreal Alliance. The team is slated to begin play in the 2022 season and will play at Verdun Auditorium, which has seen basketball once before, in 1993 with the short-lived Montreal Dragons.
The franchise was initially announced in February 2021, after the league originally held off on expansion during the 2021 season due to complications following the COVID-19 pandemic. The same month, the league announced Montreal sports executive, Annie Larouche, had been named director of Montreal Operations and effectively, the league’s plan in the city. Larouche has a strong history with the city of Montreal and its sports scene, serving in staff roles for numerous professional franchises that have come to Montreal, including the WLAF’s Montreal Machine and the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.
“I am pleased to represent this new CEBL basketball franchise in Montreal, and I am proud of the work we have accomplished thus far to create an identity true to Montreal’s community”, said Larouche about her involvement in the league. “I am excited to think that a professional basketball team in Montreal will become a source of inspiration for our young people.”
The name “Alliance”, comes from the multicultural nature of Montreal, a city with Francophone and Anglophone speakers and a huge visible minority community that bolsters one of the most diverse cities in the entire of Canada.
“Montreal has evolved into one of the strongest regions for basketball in the country, and we are very excited to fuel that growth by bringing a pro franchise to the city,” Mike Morreale, CEBL commissioner and Chief Executive Officer said. “Montreal sports fans will see the best pro basketball in Canada outside of the NBA competing in one of the top FIBA leagues in the world.”
Quebecois, primarily from Montreal, are becoming more and more prominent in professional basketball, Khem Birch, Chris Boucher and Lugentz Dort are all currently playing in the NBA, and enthusiasm for the sport improving in the province, making inroads into Montreal and bringing the city its first professional franchise in almost ten years is a decision that makes complete sense.
This comes following the announcement of the eighth CEBL franchise, the Scarborough Shooting Stars, the league’s fifth Ontario team but first Greater Toronto Area team.