Vancouver Dragons’s Usama Zaid in action against Quad City Flames at TWU’s David E. Enarson Gymnasium in April. (File photo: Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)

Idea for Surrey stadium bounced by Vancouver Dragons basketball team

For now, minor pro squad is leaving TWU gym for Tamanawis Secondary in Newton, starting Saturday

The Vancouver Dragons basketball team is leaving Langley for a temporary home at a high school gym in Surrey, a city where owners of the minor pro franchise want to soon build a stadium for games.

The team will bounce over to the gym at Newton’s Tamanawis Secondary for the first time Saturday (June 9) against Tacoma Tigers. Game time is 7 p.m.

Since April, the Dragons have played home games at Trinity Western University’s David E. Enarson Centre, during the squad’s inaugural season in the Minor League Basketball Association (MLBA).

T.J. Dhinsa, the Dragons’ majority owner, said the franchise wants to be based in Surrey, both now and in the future.

”We’re just getting our proposal ready, and hopefully in a couple of years we’ll have our own basketball facility in Surrey,” he told the Now-Leader on Thursday.

Team owners propose to build a “main court” facility that could seat up to 3,000 spectators, possibly in the Bridgeview area, with additional courts for basketball, volleyball and soccer.

“It’s a very, very serious proposal,” Dhinsa said. “We’ve already talked with the city and they are very interested and told us they could give us land by Scott Road station, and we’ve met with some local investors. We’re basically a week away from getting our proposal done, for investors, and then we’ll bring that back to the city and, you know, we’re very hopeful that we can get this built by 2020.”

The proposed multi-purpose facility would not include ice sports, Dhinsa noted.

“We told the city we want to stay away from any ice rinks – that’s where your money goes out the door, sort of thing, and they’re already building a rink in that area, so that worked out perfectly for us,” he said.

• RELATED STORY: Three possible locations for proposed Surrey sports stadium, from November 2017.

Surrey needs a “court sport” stadium/complex like the one proposed by the Dragons, Dhinsa underlined.

“We’re were looking around to maybe put a big gym in an existing building in Surrey, but in talking with people, we realized that Surrey needs something like a Langley Events Centre, especially for the kids,” he said. “That ties in perfect with the Dragons because we have the hashtag ‘CommunityFirst,’ so we do a lot of stuff in the community, and we want our players to be part of it, to do basketball academies there, for kids. The high schools could use it for their championships, the Fraser Valleys, stuff like that. That’s our whole focus, and then reach out to the volleyball community, soccer, get everybody aboard.”

This season, the Dragons have won eight games and lost just one, for top spot in the league’s five-team Northwest Conference.

At Tamanwis, as part of a deal that involves Kevin DeBoice, the school’s basketball-loving principal, the schedule includes games on June 23 and 24 against Bellingham Bulls, with another on June 29 against BC Grizzlies. Game times and other details are posted at vancouverdragons.com.

“The last game (this season) for us, hopefully, will be July 8 during the finals,” Dhinsa said. “We’ve got two more (home) games against Bellingham, and then the Northwest Conference Final Four, when we’ll play two games, and then the league championships after that.”

At TWU’s gym, the team’s home-opening game in April drew more than 1,000 spectators, he said.

“After that the average has been about 350 to 450 a game,” Dhinsa noted.

“The cheapest ticket we have is a $5 student ticket, with general admission $7 and VIP courtside $20.

“We’ve got some really good talent on the team, and we’ve been winning a lot of games.”

At Tamanawis, the gym is “a great fit for us right now,” Dhinsa said. “What we were paying at Trinity Western and what we’re paying at Tamanawis, it’s basically a $12-an-hour difference, not much, but it’s more about feedback from the fans. We love Trinity Western, at David Enarson, but we’ve found that we wouldn’t be able to host our league championships there, and we started looking for somewhere else and then we thought, what better way to play some games in Surrey, where we have that home-court advantage. We’re putting in a three-point line (at Tamanawis) for that FIBA standard (International Basketball Federation), so that’ll be done. Until we get our own basketball facility, it’ll work for us.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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