Basketball franchise heads to Copper Box

By Giles Broadbent on August 10, 2012 10:36 AM |

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While discussions continue over the future tenant for the Olympic Stadium, the land grab for another venue has already begun.

The MK Lions British Basketball League is leaving Milton Keynes with an eye on the Copper Box Arena - home to handball during the Games.

The franchise will call itself the London Lions and wait out the refit period until 2013 playing at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The Lions have played in Milton Keynes for 15 years after originally starting out in Hemel Hempstead but the lease on their Winterhill base expired.

Lions chief executive Vince Macauley told the BBC: "We're excited to be in London, we've got a history in London, there'll be an automatic rivalry with [Dagenham's] East London Royals, I think it's exactly what basketball needs.

"The London Towers and London Leopards had an absolutely fierce rivalry in the hey-day of British basketball, so I think it's time we picked that up again."

The new BBL season gets under way on September 21 when the Lions, who finished ninth last season, face Manchester Giants.

Macauley said: "Everybody has talked about legacy - this is an actual, real, tangible legacy.

"We're going to have a professional basketball team in London, it's going to move into one of our Olympics venues."