'The London basketball market is ripe': New five-court complex to open in Forest City
The pandemic has exposed a lack of publicly accessible sports facilities in London, Ont.
To fill that void, a Canadian-based company is expanding its stable to bring a state-of-the-art basketball complex to the Forest City.
Playground Global is rapidly expanding, and the privately-owned basketball brand is making London its sixth location in Ontario.
Construction of the five unique spaces is still underway at The Activity Plex in the former RONA building at Highbury Avenue and Commissioners Road in London.
"Historically we've relied really heavily on the education system to provide our facilities," says Kevin Barnes, director of Business Development at Playground Global.
"That has certainly been an effective way for us to get to this level that we're at now, but in the scope of what is to come in basketball in Canada, we have to support it with infrastructure. There's a lot of barriers for just your everyday person getting access to school, but Playground Global will will provide a safe high-end space to suppor the growth of the game."
The floor will soon be put down on the Championship Court which will seat between 600-700 fans.
The hardwood floor at The Playground London will be installed soon in preparation for an October opening.
"That's a really exciting space which can create an atmosphere," says Barnes. "It's not quite like Bud Gardens with 10,000 sold out every night, but certainly could fill the room and make it a really exciting night out for a family to come and watch a high performance game. We can have high school city finals, tournament finals, and really just a fun, state-of-the-art room for us to create, you know, basketball memories."
In addition, there will be a high school-size court, and elementary court which will have limited seating.
"What's really unique and exciting about our partnership with the Activity Plex is the 'Lumber Yard,' which is outside of the building," says Barnes. "It's more like a field house, with three sides and a roof covering the space with a flex-court floor, and two high school-size courts."
'The Lumber Yard' is a pair of outdoor courts at The Activity Plex in the former RONA building at Highbury and Commissioners Ave in London, Ont. (Brent Lale / CTV News)
The Championship Court will be the home of Southwest Academy Prep Basketball. The London, Ont. women's program based out of Regina Mundi Catholic High School is one of the top high school teams in Canada.
"I can't wait to watch them play," says Adam Jacobson, owner of the Activity Plex. "I'm a huge basketball fan and having a high-end private facility is something that London certainly needed. These guys are the best of the best, and I'm just excited for them to open the doors soon."
Its southeast London location off Highway 401, close to hotels and White Oaks Mall, makes it appealing for Tourism London.
The Playground London is an indoor space with an outdoor feel at The Activity Plex in the former RONA building at Highbury and Commissioners Ave in London, Ont. (Brent Lale / CTV News)
"We're certainly going to be having more conversations with Ontario Basketball, even Canada Basketball, and see if maybe there's something smaller that can be run out of there," says Zanth Jarvis, director of sport tourism for Tourism London.
"I know there they want to stay dedicated to basketball but maybe we can expand it to some volleyball and some other court sports."
Jarvis joked that about another eight of these facilities would be needed to help take care of all the teams and athletes who need court space in the London area. When it comes to sport tourism, a venue like the Playground can be a consistent driver of outsiders to the Forest City.
"A World Figure Skating Championship or a Memorial Cup is the big tourism draw but those are once in a decade events," says Jarvis.
"Minor basketball tournaments you can do every single weekend, and they're generating a ton of tourism. So over time, you know, doing that every weekend equates to even larger than a one-off World Figure Skating Championship or a Memorial Cup."
Barnes is the former men's head coach at Southwest Academy, and currently an assistant coach for the University of Waterloo. He's been a basketball builder in London over the past 10 years, so he knows the London market.
"The London market is ripe," says Barnes.
"There are many great players from our academy at Southwest as well as the London Basketball Academy who are going high performance to Division One (NCAA). One of our players from Southwest, Ethan Butler, just committed to the Oregon Ducks. Another local kid Shaedon Sharpe has just committed to Kentucky Wildcats, so this is an extremely exciting time for the growth of the game."
On the women's side, Londoner Miranda Ayim recently retired from a long professional career. Chatham's Bridget Carleton (WNBA) played for the London Ramblers and Lemyah Hylton of Southwest Academy is a top NCAA prospect and member of Canada's U19 Women's National Tteam.
The facility will be open 24/7, 365 days a year, and will be open for teams, rentals and even drop-ins.
The Playground Durham is a 50,000 square foot facility with 6 FIBA sized courts in Durham, Ont. (Source: The Playground Durham)
Headed by Sam Ibrahim and Jamie Coote, the Playground Global started with one 15,000-square-foot facility in Scarborough, Ont. in 2020. It has now expanded to include locations in Durham, Peterborough, Burlington, Brampton, London and Ottawa (slated for 2022).
"We have a mandate to be coast-to-coast in Canada within the next five years," says Barnes.
"We're certainly also pursuing global initiatives. Basketball is an amazing sport, and it's something that has given me many opportunities for both self-improvement and life experience. We're excited to to share the game, and grow the game with as many Canadians as we can."
London Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Pfizer has asked Health Canada to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old.
More COVID-19 booster shots may be on the way -- but when it's your turn, you'll get an extra dose of the original vaccine, not one updated to better match the extra-contagious delta variant. And that has some experts wondering if the booster campaign is a bit of a missed opportunity to target delta and its likely descendants.
Tk'emlúps te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that his visit to the First Nation community Monday is 'bittersweet' following his notable absence from their ceremony to recognize the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
An Access to Information request by CTV News shows that when Canada learned that Canadian women and children were being held in a Kurdish-run detention camp in Syria, the response was hesitant and minimal—and it appears little has changed, writes London Bureau Chief Paul Workman in an exclusive piece for CTVNews.ca.
Alberta's two major cities were voting for new mayors during municipal elections Monday after being led by Naheed Nenshi in Calgary and Don Iveson in Edmonton for multiple terms.
As polls in the Alberta municipal elections are set to close, voters in the province have also been given the chance to voice their opinions on federal equalization payments.
Colin Powell's death from COVID-19 complications despite vaccination reminder immunocompromised at higher risk
The recent death of Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, due to COVID-19 complications is a small warning, experts say, reinforcing that those of advanced age or with health complications are still at a greater risk than other vaccinated populations.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday sought to block the release of documents related to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection to a House committee investigating the attack, challenging President Joe Biden's initial decision to waive executive privilege.
The regulatory body for Ontario's medical profession has barred two outspoken doctors from issuing any medical exemptions related to COVID-19 vaccinations.
Health officials in Waterloo Region reported 41 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend.
Police are continuing to search for a missing 11-year-old girl last seen in Perth County this weekend.
Waterloo regional police are investigating two reports of bomb threats emailed to businesses over the weekend.
The mystery of a missing large rubber duck has consumed Toronto’s Simon Shaw.
'You are the judges in this case': Jury trial underway in death of Windsor mom, under pandemic modifications
The jury trial of a man accused in the death of Autumn Taggart, 31, has started in Windsor’s Superior Court.
Bird e-scooters have been a bit hit in Windsor this summer and fall and they now have company.
Provincial police arrested a Barrie man in connection with a homicide last month in Trent Hills and are on the hunt for a second suspect.
As of Oct. 31, new vaccine protocols will take effect at most health care centres in the region, and it could have many reaching for the wanted ads, including some at Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland.
Local businesses credit federal wage and rent subsidy programs for seeing them through the pandemic.
Greater Sudbury Police have charged a 32-year-old man with attempted murder following a series of violent events early Saturday morning.
The troupe behind Sudbury Burlesque say they're eager to hit the stage as they return this month for nine performances at the Coulson Nightclub. They're promising something for everyone but in a small, swankier atmosphere.
Noront Resources Ltd. announced Monday it has agreed to terms with Australia's Wyloo Metals to acquire up to 100 per cent Noront shares for C$0.70 in cash.
Ottawa's Confederation Line LRT will remain shut down for at least another two weeks, possibly more, according to a new memo from city staff.
The family of an Ottawa man who has been missing since Thursday is offering a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to him being found.
Pfizer has asked Health Canada to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old.
The Toronto rapper who was wanted for murder before he was arrested earlier this month in Los Angeles is a member of a criminal gang who organized a botched hit trying to target his brother's killer, according to documents unsealed in an American extradition hearing.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is being asked to apologize for 'divisive' comments made on Monday about immigrants coming to Ontario 'to collect the dole.'
Some 215,000 Ontarians successfully downloaded their COVID-19 vaccine certificate QR code Monday morning and they should consider themselves lucky.
Montreal police are looking for multiple suspects after a teenager was fatally stabbed near his school in Cote-des-Neiges Monday afternoon, staggering inside to seek help.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and the Montreal Fire Department paid tribute to Pierre Lacroix on Monday after his body was retrieved from the St. Lawrence River, where he died performing a water rescue.
Quebec has released a new type of digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination, this one meant to be used for travel out of province in a 'pan-Canadian standard.' However, the federal government is working on something similar.
A seven-year-old child has died while out on a walk with his mother on a logging road in Nova Scotia's Cumberland County.
Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting one COVID-19 related death, along with 53 new and 138 recoveries on Monday, as the total number of active cases in the province drops to 849.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 72 new cases of COVID-19 and 63 recoveries since Friday, as the number of active cases rises to 208.
The pastor of a church near Steinbach has been arrested after attending and organizing public protests, the church said.
Manitoba's health minister has apologized after appearing in a photo breaking the indoor mask mandate at an event over the weekend.
The province is reminding people to keep their proof of COVID-19 vaccination cards handy, as vaccine mandates will be sticking around in Manitoba until next year.
ELECTION SPECIAL: LIVE AT 8PM
ELECTION SPECIAL: LIVE AT 8PM | Jyoti Gondek elected as Calgary's first female mayor
Jyoti Gondek has been declared as Calgary's next mayor.
WATCH LIVE | Election 2021: Calgary city council results by ward
Monday is more than a mayoral race. There are also 14 council seats up for grabs, including nine that will see new council members elected, (plus a new mayor). Here's a rundown on the results as they roll in:
George Chahal addressed the controversy surrounding an episode on federal election night, calling his decision to remove a piece of campaign literature promoting his opponent "a dumb mistake."
Amarjeet Sohi won a sizable victory in Edmonton's mayoral race, while incumbent city councillors had a mixed night.
Anne Stevenson was elected for city council in O-day'min, CTV News declared.
Incumbent Jon Dziadyk lost to Karen Principe in tastawiyiniwak, CTV News has declared.