Richard Petko has since rebuilt the city and started an active basketball league and is somehow seen as an environmental development.
A Canadian architect and business partner, Michael Skrtich, were renovating the shopping malls and building a residence as part of an earlier promotion program in Thorold, Ont., Where they also saw an opportunity to bring a sports team to nearby St. Catharine.
From 2015-18, the Niagara River Lions have operated the Meridian Center as a member of the National Basketball League of Canada. Petko, 49, ended up frustrated with what he saw as a bad business and decided to stand on his own to establish the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
The CEBL’s main office is part of a new look at Thorold and has established a public presence in protest of being “pulled out of an elephant tower somewhere” like downtown Toronto, Petko said.
Petko and CEBL Commissioner Mike Morreale formed six teams for the first season of 2019: Edmonton, Fraser Valley, Hamilton, Guelph, Saskatchewan, and River Lions, whom Petko brought to the CEBL after his three-year contract to the NBL- C has expired.
The Ottawa BlackJacks were added ahead of the 2020 campaign, which eventually became a fan-free competition at the Meridian Center.
CEBL has made it known that they would like to expand and are now ready to enter the larger markets.
To do so, Petko suggests that places like Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Quebec City would be better. However, he emphasized that they wanted to work with teams with experience in sports and recreation and the existing infrastructure to run the team.
The league hopes to return to its regional status next season. The schedule is expected to be released at the beginning of the new year, but there may not be more teams as Petko says the teams “kick our tires” and wait a year to see how things play out after the epidemic.