The Fraser Valley Bandits are moving from Abbotsford to Langley.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League team made the announcement during a press conference in Langley on Thursday (Sept. 23).
The team’s new home will now be the Langley Events Centre after spending 2019 and 2021 at the Abbotsford Centre. The 2020 season was played in a pandemic bubble and games were played in St. Catharines, Ont.
The Aquilini Investment Group took control of the Abbotsford Centre back in June and they now decide what occurs in the building. It’s not yet known what led to the failure of a deal coming together. AIG’s five-year contract to run the Abbotsford Centre begins on Jan. 1, 2022, but they are currently working with current operators Spectra to ensure a smooth transition.
The Bandits had regularly been amongst the top in the CEBL in attendance, and has been considered a model franchise by those who follow the league.
— Ben Lypka (@BenLypka) August 17, 2021
Rumours of the Bandits possibly leaving Abbotsford surfaced in mid-August, and the logical place for the team to end up was the LEC. That facility already hosts the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, the Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association, the Trinity Western University Spartans sports teams and is the headquarters of Basketball BC.
LEC has also been the home of the B.C. high school basketball and volleyball provincial championships in recent years.
“The Bandits are thrilled to continue our growth throughout the Fraser Valley by making our new home at Langley Events Centre,” stated Bandits president Dylan Kular. “LEC has a storied basketball and sports history and is a leading entertainment venue that is renowned for its breadth of facilities and hospitality offerings. Bandits fans both new and old will be able to experience the elite game day product that they have come to know and love, as well as the benefits of a centrally located venue in the Lower Mainland that’s reputation is second to none.”
The Bandits now appear to be marketing Langley and the LEC as the home of basketball in B.C.
“Today is a special opportunity to celebrate and usher in a new chapter in British Columbia’s rich basketball history. The sport’s roots run deep in B.C., from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island, and especially here in the Fraser Valley,” stated CEBL commissioner and CEO Mike Morreale.
“We have consistently seen this region produce some of the Province’s leading U SPORTS athletes, as well as boys and girls that have gone on to represent Canada in the NBA, WNBA and in Olympic competition. The arrival of the Bandits at LEC cements the notion that Langley is the capital of basketball in B.C. through its status as the home of competitive youth basketball played across the venue’s multitude of courts, its hosting of provincial championships, U SPORTS and now one of the CEBL’s most exciting teams to watch in the Bandits.”
The club is expected to tip off the 2022 season in May.