The Maritime Women’s Basketball Association fully expects to have a team playing out of Prince Edward Island in 2024.
Although the MWBA and its six-founding organizations studied the possibility of adding a PEI team for 2023, the logistical changes and financial impact was not one the league could absorb after its inaugural season.
The MWBA features Nova Scotia’s Windsor Edge, Halifax Thunder and reigning champion Halifax Hornets along with New Brunswick’s Fredericton Freeze, Moncton Mystics and Port City Fog of Saint John.
The teams played a 10-game regular season in 2022 before hosting championship weekend in Halifax for the Legacy Cup.
Expansion interest was shown in Charlottetown and Dartmouth for 2023.
‘There was plenty of chatter and exploration into potential expansion for this season including conversations with subject matter experts who are involve with other women’s sports leagues int Canada,’ said MWBA commissioner, Tasia McKenna of Nova Scotia. ‘After gathering field knowledge, our executive, teams and expansion committee looked long and hard at numbers and logistical equations. We want to do the right thing and create a true Maritime league with the inclusion of Prince Edward Island. With that in mind, we also need to ensure that every decision, including expansion, will be sustainable for the long term.’
McKenna said many questions need to be answered, but the work has already begun for potential expansion for 2024, including robust expansion criteria.
‘We had an outstanding opening season, so many great memories and achievements were met that it surpassed all of our expectations,’ said McKenna. ‘There was a pent-up demand for this league and when the doors opened, thousands of fans flooded to games or watched on live stream. That all asks the question ‘what will 2023 look like?’ It’s a critical question. We want to ensure all of our teams are stable financially and can make the commitment next year to absorbing one or two more teams.’
It was decided through an expansion committee chaired by MWBA vice-commissioner Lezlie States, and committee members including one New Brunswick and Nova Scotia franchise representative and an external stakeholder from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that eight teams would be the optimum amount the league could handle.
‘Realistically, we would look at PEI and another potential team in Nova Scotia which would create a two-divisional format to make sense both schedule and financial-wise for our teams,’ said McKenna. ‘The idea behind the MWBA is to promote more women playing the sport we love and expansion would allow up to almost 30 more players getting an opportunity if we eventually went with two teams. But we want to do this slow and steady. It took us almost two years of work and passion to get the league up and running. Ensuring sustainability is critical at this level.’