THE URBANITE » URBANITENEWS.COM » MARCH 26 2014 » 3
Taking the Express lane to basketball Windsor Express reflects on Caesars game and WFCU arena Jay Verspeelt Windsorites have heard of the Spitfires, but the Windsor Express might be passing by. While there’s some debate on just where hockey originated, basketball is an uncontested Canadian sport ... even if it was first played in America. In that spirit of cultural exchange, American entrepreneur Dartis Willis set up shop in 2012 in Windsor with his basketball team the Windsor Express. Drafted from players across the two countries, the teammates landed in the city and played ball all the way to a No. 1 Central Division title. So what are Willis’ thoughts on having a winning team? “[It’s] very much like working with a losing team, you win and you lose. To win on the court as well as in the stands depends on the day… we’re winning overall. We’ve got a great team both on the court and off the court,” said Willis. While the Express are winning on the court, they’re losing in the stands. Their arena, the Windsor Family Credit Union
Centre, seats up to 6,900 people while the team sees an average of 700 people per game. “I think that Windsor has some unique challenges of its own and we walked in right in the middle of them,” said Willis, referencing the WFCU Centre’s east side location. “The argument for and against the arena being where it is, it’s a fight that’s not ours.” Express fan Brett Hedges agrees with the sentiment. “I think we need more basketball savvy fans in the city. But ultimately they need to change venues. Being in the east side is [killing] them,” he said.
Windsor Express hope success on court is reflected in the stands » Photo Jay Verspeelt
On Jan. 16, the Express played a special game at Caesars Windsor that saw a record turnout of approximately 2,800 people, according to Willis.
While he’d like to see the team play there again, Willis stated that the venue was much more expensive to rent out than the WFCU Centre and also much less accessible. Still he would like to play there at least once more.
“We didn’t know if it was something affordable or not but we knew that we wanted to play there at least once. That event was two years in the making,” said Willis.
“Crowds at the WFCU centre are lower in numbers but very enthusiastic and loud. One thousand fans for Windsor is like 3-4,000 fans anywhere else,” said Hedges.
Hedges has seen Express fans shout louder and longer than fans of other teams and Willis has said that he’s seeing many familiar faces in the stands. “We’ve got a good following already. It’s not where we want it but they’ve [fans] really been receptive to the team,” said Willis.
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Published on Mar 27, 2014
Published on Mar 27, 2014
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