The Fraser Valley Bandits are hoping to become the first pro basketball team to host a playoff game in B.C. since the 1946-47 Vancouver Hornets of the Pacific Coast Professional Basketball League. (Left - Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News, right - Canada Basketball).

The Fraser Valley Bandits are hoping to become the first pro basketball team to host a playoff game in B.C. since the 1946-47 Vancouver Hornets of the Pacific Coast Professional Basketball League. (Left - Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News, right - Canada Basketball).

Fraser Valley Bandits aim to become first B.C. pro basketball team in 74 years to host playoffs

Canadian Elite Basketball League team could welcome fans to Abbotsford Centre for Aug. 15 game

William Lyon Mackenzie King was Prime Minister, the Toronto Maple Leafs were Stanley Cup champions and Abbotsford’s first documented protest occurred when local school children rallied against candy bar prices increasing from five to eight cents.

The year 1947 is also the last time a playoff basketball game between professional teams was played in the province of British Columbia, but the Fraser Valley Bandits can change that if they can hang on to fourth place or move up to third in the Canadian Elite Basketball League standings.

The Bandits have four games remaining and if they win two of those games the club will host a playoff game on Sunday, Aug. 15 inside the Abbotsford Centre. That game will be broadcast nationally on CBC.

It’s been 74 years since the Vancouver Hornets of the Pacific Coast Professional Basketball League hosted round robin playoff games after finishing the 1946-47 season with a record of 24-14. The Hornets merged with the Yakima Ramblers for the playoffs and played games against the Portland Indians, Bellingham Firecrests and Seattle Trailblazers. Vancouver finished third overall in the round robin with a record of 6-6.

Vancouver failed to make the playoffs in the 1947-48 PCPBL season finishing the first half of the season with a record of 16-15 and the second half at 13-7. The PCPBL folded after the 1947-48, which was its second.

Professional basketball didn’t return to B.C. until 1988 when the Vancouver Nighthawks debuted in the unique World Basketball League. The WBL ran from 1988 to 1992 and unlike other pro basketball leagues it featured a height restriction – players over 6-5 were not eligible to play in the league.

The Nighthawks, who played home games at BC Place, struggled at the gate and sold fewer than 100 season tickets heading into their season opener. The team went on to miss payroll in late-June of 1988 and owner Don Burns abandoned the team. Other WBL teams helped prop up the team to complete the 1988 season, but they finished 18-36 and missed the playoffs. The Nighthawks folded after the 1988 season.

Media reports from the time stated that attendance for the Nighthawks debut saw 3,000 fans in the 60,000 seat BC Place. Other media reports stated that the team averaged about 1,600 fans for the first 17 home games of their 27-game home calendar.

The Vancouver Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association then arrived in Vancouver in 1995 and failed to get anywhere close to the postseason after six seasons. The closest the Grizzlies got was the 1997-98 season when they finished with a record of 19-63, a whopping eight games better than the horrifically bad Denver Nuggets that season.

The team’s overall record was 101-359 and they set an NBA single-season record with 23 consecutive losses in 1998-99. Sadly, that record was eclipsed by the Philadelphia 76ers, who lost 28 games in a row over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

In recent years there have been a number of semi-professional basketball team in B.C., but no professional team with the opportunity the Bandits have to host a playoff game.

Tickets are now available for the potential history making game on Aug. 15.

Due to the uncertainty of how each team’s season will conclude, ticket holders are able to enjoy flexibility regarding use of their tickets in the event that Fraser Valley finishes fifth or sixth in the standings and is required to play a quarterfinal playoff game on the road. If Fraser Valley finishes fifth or sixth, ticket holders will be able to apply the value of their tickets toward a future Bandits game in 2022 or can request a refund by contacting tickets@thebandits.ca.

“We would not be where we are today without our fans. The Fraser Valley is home to some of the most die-hard fans in sports and we have seen that firsthand since we launched. After being the most-watched team at last year’s CEBL Summer Series and now hosting three straight sell-outs, I believe that this is the Valley’s moment to come together to create an intense playoff atmosphere at Abbotsford Centre. It’s a single-game elimination and everyone is invited,” stated Bandits vice-president Dylan Kular.

The Bandits clinched a playoff berth last month and currently sit in fourth place in the CEBL with a record of 5-5.

For more on the team, visit thebandits.ca.

abbotsfordbasketballFraser Valley