Rebirth: Cannons legend Cal Bruton is trying to resurrect the Canberra side. Photo: Colleen Petch
NBL Hall of Famer Cal Bruton has met with New Zealand Breakers officials to help devise a plan to revive the Canberra Cannons as a consortium prepares to bid for a spot in the NBL competition for the 2015-16 season.
Bruton's son and NBL great C.J. Bruton also looms as a potential recruit or coach of a Canberra team, with Cal snr declaring it would be "the icing on the cake" for C.J.'s career if he finished in Canberra.
The NBL has called for expressions of interest for potential Victorian teams to join the competition and is set to widen its search for new clubs by gauging interest from Canberra, Wellington, Brisbane, Tasmania and Victoria.
History: Bruton during his playing days at the Cannons.
Canberra bids will go through an expression of interest process in the coming weeks, 11 years after the Cannons went bust.
Bruton is yet to finalise a plan for a Canberra proposal and is waiting to speak with the NBL to get more details.
C.J. Bruton finished his playing stint with the New Zealand Breakers last weekend, but is yet to decide if he will retire after 20 years, six titles and two Olympic Games.
C.J. played for the Cannons from 2001-03 when Cal was the coach and if he opted to continue playing, he would be 40 by the time a Canberra team was cleared to join the NBL.
"C.J. hasn't come out and said he retired. A lot of players go into their 40s ... C.J. brings something pretty special to the table," Cal Bruton said.
"Who knows what will happen if a Canberra team gets the go-ahead. C.J. will have some opportunities. If he chooses to be a part of something in Canberra, that would be the icing on the cake for me."
NBL chief executive Fraser Neill is confident there is "strong anecdotal interest" from benefactors who are considering helping prop up a Canberra franchise.
Consortiums will have two weeks to lodge an application, after which the NBL will spend four months working with the standout bids.
“We’ve had a lot of strong anecdotal interest [regarding Canberra], we’re quite positive of getting some pretty good groups involved,’’ Neill said.
“There’ll be two weeks for anyone who wants to be involved in the funding of facilities, management or any other aspect of it to lodge an application.
“If we got two or three [bids] we may talk to them about joining forces, if they have different skill sets which would complement each other.
“We wouldn’t be in Canberra if we didn’t think they could have a team, that’s for sure.’’
Cal Bruton is helping spearhead one potential consortium, and has held recent meetings with NBL powerbrokers.
He met with New Zealand Breakers officials while in Auckland to watch C.J.'s farewell game.
"We've been meeting with different groups of people to come up with the right model that would best suit Canberra," Bruton said.
"It's just great we've reached a point now where they're talking about Canberra again."
There are concerns Canberra doesn’t boast the corporate backing to support another national league team in an already congested market.
The estimated cost of running an NBL club is $5 million a year, but Neill believes a team could operate with a $3 million to $4 million budget under the right financial model.
“People tell us there’s money there,’’ Neill said.
“Canberra can support an NRL team and a rugby union team, and ours costs 15 to 20 per cent of what they cost.
“I’ve got no reason not to think that, but they must be sustainable from day one."
Neill said the possibility of staging pre-season or an official NBL game had been discussed.