The Cape Breton Highlanders and Saint John Riptide will take the 2019-20 National Basketball League of Canada season off.
League deputy commissioner Audley Stephenson announced on Friday the two franchises have been granted one-year sabbaticals to stabilize their finances.
“The NBLC recognizes the positive contributions of the Saint John Riptide and Cape Breton Highlanders to the league over the past several seasons and will support their efforts in taking a season off to establish a solid structure going forward,” Stephenson said in a news release.
The Highlanders made a late push to get their ticket base to a sustainable level but couldn’t hit their target. The team launched three years ago in Sydney and averaged 1,475 fans per game in its inaugural season. Attendance dropped to 1,238 last year.
“The Highlanders owners and management would like to extend their sincere thanks to everyone who provided support to the organization over the last three seasons – CBRM and Centre 200, our local sponsors and advertisers and especially our volunteers and fans,” Highlanders president and general manager Tyrone Levingston said in a news release.
“Those supporters who provided a $50 deposit will have those funds returned to them over the next seven to 10 days.”
The Riptide and Highlanders players will be released from their teams and are free to sign elsewhere. The league has also offered the franchises a framework for reinstatement in 2020-21.
The teams committed to the league’s ninth season are the Halifax Hurricanes, London Lightning, Windsor Express, KW Titans, Sudbury Five, Moncton Magic, Island Storm and St. John’s Edge.
This season’s schedule is expected to be released soon.