Teddy Tochev of Guelph figures his hometown would be an ideal location for a National Basketball League of Canada franchise.
"I think a successful model can be applied to Guelph at the Sleeman Centre," Tochev said. "Why I think so is that not only do I understand the city but I feel that the city and community is perfectly ready for it. It's about time they had another professional major sports team here. It's a growing city and a lot of families and kids live here. They love sports, especially families who put a lot of their kids in youth sports."
Now 30, Tochev was born in Bulgaria and came to Canada when his family emigrated here when he was four. He grew up in Guelph and attended St. James high school before transferring to Centennial for his graduation year. He also went to Waterloo and Ryerson Universities and graduated from the University of Guelph.
"I played basketball at all the universities I went to, with some winning programs and some losing programs," he said. "If I wasn't playing, I was at least practicing with the team to stay in shape. I believe you have to be in shape to be ready for an opportunity that might come in the future, whether that's with another team or with the team you're presently with. I tried to play as much basketball as I could and that definitely motivated me to stay in school."
After university, he played a season of pro basketball with Spartak Pleven in the Bulgarian NBL before he founded the Toronto 3D elite basketball team that he took to China last year and has plans for a return trip this year.
"Six players in the program signed pro contracts," Tochev said. "That motivated me to take everything to the next step and bring a national pro team from NBL Canada to Guelph. I'm pretty close with most of the owners in the league and I've been following the league since its birth five years ago and it's really growing. It's growing really fast."
The league operates this season with eight teams including four in Ontario based in Windsor, London, Niagara and Orangeville. The other four teams are located in the Maritimes.
"We're starting to realize that smaller cities and communities actually have a bigger impact," Tochev said. "It's easier to reach out to fans and it gives them something more accessible to go out to and have fun and interact and participate in. That's why NBL Canada thinks Guelph would be a good city and definitely feel that putting all the energy, plan and commitment toward making this in Guelph would definitely help benefit the community. People don't even know how exciting it would be until Guelph actually has a team."
The earliest a Guelph team could be added to the NBL Canada stable is for the 2017-18 season.
"I think that gives us a lot of time to prepare a concrete plan and find the right teams and find the right investors to make that happen," Tochev said. "It also gives us the time to do a lot of work in terms of promotion in the community so that when the time does come to bring it to life and kick start the season, the community would be well aware that there is a team here and be ready to right away attract fans and be a natural attraction "
Tochev didn't feel he could get enough financial backers together in time for the March 31 deadline for an expansion application for the 2016-17 season.
"Right now we're just in talking stages and networking stages and we're trying to reach out to interests so the word can be heard that we want to bring a professional basketball team to Guelph and I think Guelph is ready."