The Ottawa BlackJacks' 2021 regular season schedule is out, and the start date is later than the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) had originally envisioned.
The team says, Thursday, the typical 20 games slate has been cut to 14 and pushed back from a mid-May start to June 5 in order to accommodate the possibility of fans being able to attend games at TD Place this summer.
The CEBL says it can't push its season beyond a late-August playoff finish because most of its players must report to their international pro teams by September.
"The CEBL has created a 49-game regular season schedule and a set of protocols with the health and safety of fans, players, officials, and staff at the forefront," said Michael Cvitkovic, president of the Ottawa BlackJacks. "Ottawa health officials have been working relentlessly to put our region into the best position in the fight against COVID-19. It is up to all of us to follow their guidelines and if we comply, our chances of fans attending games will rise. We understand the impact live events play in bringing joy to our community. I cannot express how excited members of the BlackJacks organization are at being able to play at home in less than four months."
With uncertainty around government regulations of people attending events, and in recognition that some people may not feel comfortable attending events in 2021, the BlackJacks have come up with an approach to protect the investment of those who have purchased tickets to the team's games.
All season tickets, season ticket deposits and flex packs that have been purchased for 2021 are automatically being moved forward into 2022 and applied toward next season’s ticket packages. If fans will be allowed into the Arena at TD Place in 2021, those ticket holders may choose to draw tickets from their 2022 package to use for any games they wish to attend in 2021. There will be no obligation to use any tickets in 2021. All unused tickets will remain on account and applied toward the same ticket packages in 2022.
Fans who had purchased tickets for the 2020 season and left their tickets on account for 2021 received retention benefits that included a 20 per cent credit toward additional tickets and a 25 per cent discount on team merchandise. Those benefits will be extended to all ticket holders through August of 2022.
Additional ticketing details will be announced closer to the start of the season when it is expected there will be more clarity from government and health officials around public gatherings.
The BlackJacks open the 2021 season on the road versus Hamilton on Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m. After starting the campaign on a three-game road trip, Ottawa will play its first home game in franchise history on Thursday, June 24 at 7 p.m. versus the Niagara River Lions.
The seven home games are highlighted by a special Canada Day contest against the Hamilton Honey Badgers, which will be the only CEBL contest celebrated on our country’s birthday. Other games played at the Arena at TD Place include visits from the three CEBL western opponents: the 2020 CEBL finalists Fraser Valley Bandits on July 10; the league champions and the team that knocked Ottawa out in last year’s semifinal, the Edmonton Stingers, on Saturday, July 17; and the 2019 champion Saskatchewan Rattlers on Monday, July 26. A pair of games against the Guelph Nighthawks are scheduled for June 28 and the regular-season home finale on August 4.
Ottawa’s road schedule includes single trips to Edmonton, Fraser Valley, and Hamilton, in addition to two games at Niagara and Guelph. The CEBL will announce its plans for the postseason at a later date.
CBC is the premier media partner of the CEBL and will broadcast nationally televised games on seven consecutive Saturdays beginning June 5. The BlackJacks will appear three times on national television, including back-to-back weekends June 12 at Guelph and June 19 at Niagara. Ottawa will host its first nationally televised game on July 17 against the defending-champion Edmonton Stingers.
All regular season games will also be live streamed on the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices, and on a new OTT streaming platform the CEBL will unveil this spring.