The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) introduced the Winnipeg Sea Bears as its newest member during a Wednesday news conference at Canada Life Centre, the team’s home arena when it begins play with the 2023 season. The CEBL welcomed Winnipeg businessman and lawyer David Asper as the team’s owner.

“Winnipeg is an ideal market for the Canadian Elite Basketball League with a rich basketball history that dates back 120 years, with its multi-culturalism, and with a location that unifies the CEBL’s geographic reach from British Columbia to Quebec,” said Mike Morreale, Commissioner and Co-Founder of the CEBL. “Winnipeg was a target market since the CEBL launched in 2018 and we’ve been waiting for an exceptional owner to emerge who shares our passion for the sport and for community development. David Asper is a lifelong community builder with a deep love for Winnipeg and we are thrilled to welcome him to our board of owners.”

View the video of the full announcement HERE...

The Sea Bears nickname was chosen in honour of the largest bear in the world, the polar bear whose Latin name, Ursus maritimus, means “Sea Bear”. The Arctic’s top predator is emblematic of Manitoba’s north and pays homage to the bear as a species under stress that shares the land in the north with the Dene people. Winnipeg is home to the world’s largest gallery of Inuit and Dene art, and the polar bear is a symbol of the north and its people. Winnipeg is also home to the world’s largest polar bear conservation organization. The Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg includes the world-renowned Journey to Churchill polar bear exhibit.

“As someone with a long history of community service, bringing this team and the CEBL to Winnipeg is as much about the league’s overt commitment to diversity, immigrant and newcomer communities, and doing that through the lens of culture, music, food, as it is about the business of professional basketball,” said Asper, who in addition to being past Chair of The Asper Foundation and past Dean of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law, currently serves as Chair of the Manitoba Police Commission and as a member of the Forks North Portage Partnership. “Manitoba has a historically strong basketball community that is growing every year both organically and as a sport that is easy for all people to participate in. Basketball has the power to include and unite, and the Winnipeg Sea Bears will serve an important role in further fostering those values.”


Asper’s extensive community involvement has been widely recognized. He is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his community service, was appointed as King’s Counsel by the Province of Manitoba in 2019, and received an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Manitoba. He is a past Chair of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Centreventure. In addition, he has provided lead gifts to establish the David & Ruth Asper Research Centre at the Pan Am Clinic Foundation in Winnipeg and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto, which has supported many of Canada’s recent leading cases involving the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. David and his family have also made the largest private gift to the Canadian Olympic Foundation where his wife Ruth serves on the Board of Directors. He has been recognized with several community awards and is a proud member of the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame.

Asper announced veteran Winnipeg events executive Jason Smith as the Sea Bears team president. Smith’s 25 years of leadership experience includes operations and sales management, event production, and business development. He has produced many of Winnipeg’s most prestigious events, including the 2014 Juno Awards, the 2015 Grey Cup Festival, the NHL Heritage Classic, the Canada Summer Games Festival, ManyFest, Boo at the Zoo, Manitoba 150, and the Winnipeg Jets Whiteout Street Parties. He also serves on several boards and executive committees that currently include positions with the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the United Way Winnipeg.

The official team colour of the Sea Bears are teal, white and black. They will become the first CEBL club to play in a National Hockey League arena. Located in downtown Winnipeg, Canada Life Centre is home to the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.

The club will make its home base at the Sport Manitoba facility, where the team will enjoy continuity of care by utilizing the practice, training, recovery and meeting spaces and services, as well as their offices and business operations.

Deposits on tickets for the inaugural 2023 season are being accepted now at, where fans can also find the first line of team merchandise and get more information about Winnipeg’s professional basketball team. The team’s social handle @wpgseabears may be followed on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

The CEBL features 10 teams in six provinces, making it the largest pro sports league in Canada. The CEBL has the highest percentage of Canadian players of any pro league in the country with 71 percent of its 2022 rosters being Canadian. Players bring experience from the NBA, NBA G League, top international leagues, the Canadian National team program, and top NCAA programs as well as U Sports. The only First Division Professional League Partner of Canada Basketball, the CEBL season runs May through August. More information about the CEBL is available at and @cebleague on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.



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