By Trevor J. Adams
If you’re a serious basketball fan, you picked a great month to visit Halifax. One of Canada’s top basketball events is returning to Halifax. The top men’s university teams in the country compete at the CIS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship from March 11 to 13. The Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts the action.
This will mark the return of the event to Halifax after a three-year hiatus. The city has a long and storied history with the high-profile national championship, hosting it from 1984 to 2007. “Atlantic University Sport is excited and proud to bring the Final 8 back to Halifax for 2011 and 2012,” says Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport. “When we submitted our bid for the 2011 and 2012 events, we focused on the pride, the passion and the people who are the foundation of the event we have all grown to love.”
Attracting university alumni and fans from across the country, the event has a very sociable quality. “It really is like old-home week,” Currie says. “There are a lot of people who only see each other at the Final 8, so it makes things a lot of fun, really adds to the excitement and energy of the event.”
During the event, downtown restaurants and bars will be abuzz with activity. For sports fans, popular spots include the Split Crow on Granville Street, The Maxwell’s Plum on Sackville Street, the Halifax Alehouse on Brunswick Street, The Loose Cannon on Argyle Street and the Midtown Tavern on Grafton Street.
Organizers promise competitors and fans alike a big dose of Maritime hosptiality. “After three years away, the fans, volunteers and community are anxious to show the rest of the country that Halifax is still the university basketball capital of Canada,” says event chair John Patterson. TSN is televising the event nationally.
The weekend before the big tournament, the Metro Centre hosts the regional championship as well. Atlantic Canada’s top men’s basketball teams will for the AUS Men’s Basketball Championship, with the winner going on to the nationals.
And if all that isn’t enough, you’ll also find professional action at the Metro Centre throughout the spring. Nova Scotia’s only pro hoops team is the Halifax Rainmen. One of the Premier Basketball League’s most popular team, they’re currently in the thick of the playoff hunt.