Despite months and months of meetings and negotiations, Lions boss Vince Macaulay confirmed the fact, “We will not be playing Premier League basketball in Milton Keynes. I have done everything I can do personally so now I have to look to the future elsewhere.”
The regeneration plans of Bletchley Leisure Centre saw a move for the Lions to thecentre:mk in 2010 but with that deal not able to be extended, and the Stadium MK Arena not near completion the team had to reconsider its position.
The Lions then converted an industrial warehouse in Winterhill into a basketball facility. The facility hosted Sky televised games for two seasons, whilst making the facility available to other sporting groups in the city, however the site was sold in January of this year and the Lions vacated in April.
The Lions moved to Milton Keynes from Watford in 1998. The team has enjoyed tremendous success winning the BBL Cup at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in front of 7,000 fans, and becoming BBL Championship finalists.
Macaulay continued, “We were the first Premier League team here in Milton Keynes, we delivered the first piece of silverware for a professional sport to Milton Keynes and we developed an enviable Junior programme that won National Junior Championships whilst developing players for England and GB and gaining scholarships at home and abroad for some of the youngsters, unfortunately it’s time to move on, we will continue to run the Junior programme but professional basketball moves on.”
BBL Chairman Paul Blake added “MK Lions had a long successful history in the town of Milton Keynes. It is symptomatic of the issues we have with indoor sports facilities in the UK. The fact is there is no facility in the club’s current franchise area with the pre-requisite number of seats to run a programme. This is not an issue for the sport of basketball and other indoor sports anywhere else in Europe.
Rumours are rife that the lions have completed a deal to move to the Olympic park in London with a name change to The London Lions in time for the start of the 2013/14 season. The rumour mill continues that the Lions will move to Crystal Palace for their home games until the Copper Box is ready to be occupied.
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