Mayoral candidate makes outrageous promise to bring NBA back to Vancouver

Oct 5 2022, 10:09 pm

If you thought Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum would have the most outrageous sports-related promise this election season, you thought wrong.

That honour now belongs to NPA mayoral candidate Fred Harding.

A press release sent on behalf of Harding today is titled: “NPA mayor will bring the NBA back to Vancouver.”

He appears to be serious, calling the plan a “cornerstone” of an NPA-led majority government with him as mayor.

Municipal elections are just 10 days away.

“We lost our team 20 years ago, but we have never lost our heart or our hope that we will bring a team back,” said Harding. “Bringing back the NBA to Vancouver will be a cornerstone of an NPA-led majority with me as mayor.”

A press conference is planned for Thursday morning outside Rogers Arena, where Harding will presumably elaborate on his bold promise.

Four years ago when Harding was running for mayor, he outlined a similar plan. He ended up finishing sixth.

“We have a loneliness problem in this city and we’re going to change that,” Harding said four years ago in a video posted to YouTube by Social Trade Media Vancouver Video Production. “One of the things that we’re going to do is bring back the NBA. That’s happening. It’s coming back. We’re going to pursue a league franchise to recreate the Grizzlies back in Vancouver.

“When the Grizzlies were in Vancouver we were in one of the top performing teams in the league. Our attendance was one of the best in the league bar none. We’re going to make sure we recreate that and have a franchise that reopens the Vancouver Grizzlies back here in the next four years. People need some fun in this city.”

Harding’s claims in the above quote are riddled with inaccuracies. To start with, the Grizzlies were not a top-performing team. In fact, they were a perennial cellar dweller, never finishing a season with more than 23 wins in a season during their time in Vancouver from 1995 to 2001.

Their attendance was also never “one of the best” in the NBA. The Grizzlies had relatively average attendance during their first four seasons, ranking between 14th and 20th in NBA home attendance. Vancouver posted the third-worst attendance figures in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, before moving to Memphis for the 2001-02 season.

Local basketball fans would surely love to see the NBA one day return to Vancouver, and perhaps it would be successful the second time around.

But the mayor doesn’t have the power to bring an NBA team back to Vancouver. He or she can merely talk to billionaires in an effort to try to persuade them to get involved.

Quite frankly, local filmmaker Kat Jayme has a better chance of pulling that off.

NBA teams don’t come cheap, and that’s if you can get your hands on one. The Phoenix Suns are for sale and are expected to sell for more than the NBA-record $2.35 billion price.

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini has previously indicated that the price for an NBA team is too rich, even for him.

That’s why, instead of excitement, this NPA press release was met with ridicule on social media today.

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