Basketball Manitoba and the Winnipeg Sea Bears are welcoming a new, world-class calibre court to Manitoba. 

With the presence of the pro team in Winnipeg and the need for a top-tier basketball court in Manitoba, which is higher than ever, Basketball Manitoba and the Winnipeg Sea Bears have partnered to purchase a new portable hardwood basketball court for use well into the future. 

The new court comes from the recent NCAA Women’s Final Four held in Cleveland, OH, where it was used for fan interactions at the event.  The court is manufactured by Connor Sports and is identical to the floors used at this year's NCAA March Madness, by NBA teams (Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets), was used at the recent FIBA World Cup held last summer and will be the style of court used at this summer's Olympic Games in Paris.  It’s currently being rebranded and lined to meet the needs of the Sea Bears and other international competitions.

The above image, taken on May 7, 2024, illustrates the progress of the new court being marked with FIBA lines and Sea Bears branding. The court will replace the team’s inaugural season surface at Canada Life Centre this summer and be ready for their home opener on Friday, May 24.  

History of the Hardwood – End of an Era

The previous surface will soon see retirement after over 60 years of serving as the foundation for the province’s basketball heritage, seeing the province’s and the world’s most elite athletes traverse its surface and serving as the centrepiece for historic events.  

Originally constructed in 1955, this storied court moved to Manitoba in 1966 from its original location at Moorehead State College/University in Minnesota. Its journey marked the beginning of an era that would see it witness countless historic moments and host some of the sport's most renowned figures.

One of the court's crowning moments occurred during the 1967 Pan Am Games when it took center stage at the old Winnipeg Arena. Among the notable players who took to its hardwood was Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Fred Ingaldson, alongside Team USA basketball legends Wes Unseld and Jo Jo White.

The court became synonymous with prestigious events such as the Golden Boy Classic, which inaugurated its presence at the Winnipeg Arena in 1970. In 1971, the court found a new home at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, rebranded as the Wesmen Classic. Notable local players, including Ken Opalko, Belaineh DeGuefe, Joe Ogoms, Martin Riley, Ross Wedlake, Bob Town, Rick Watts and Randy Kusano, among countless other local players, made basketball history on the court. 

In 1983, the court welcomed the NBA, hosting an exhibition game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets. Icons of the game, such as Julius "Dr. J" Erving and Alex English, graced the court, adding to its illustrious history.

The court's significance grew with time, as it played a pivotal role during the 1999 Pan Am Games, once again held at the Winnipeg Arena. Among the notable players were Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame members Todd MacCulloch and Keith Vassell, as well as future San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginรณbili and the Toronto Raptors’ Doug Smith.

The court also became a regular host for NBA exhibition games in the 1990s and 2000s. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, and Golden State Warriors, among others, showcased their talents on its surface, featuring players like Dominique Wilkins, Chris Mullin, and Tim Hardaway.

In a historic basketball moment in 1995, the court bore witness to the inaugural "Naismith Cup," where the Toronto Raptors faced off against the Vancouver Grizzlies for the first time ever. Notable players such as Alvin Robertson, Damon Stoudamire, Benoit Benjamin, and Bryant "Big Country" Reeves left their mark on the court during this landmark event in Canadian basketball history.

The court's use extended beyond NBA basketball, serving as the home court for the Winnipeg Thunder (1992-1994) and Winnipeg Cyclone (1995-2001) teams. Notable players such as Joey Vickery, Eric Bridgeland and Dan Becker, coached by Tom Nisalke, Henry Bibby and Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins, solidified their legacies on its hardwood. Acting as the Winnipeg Sea Bears’ inaugural court in 2023, the surface played a role for all three Winnipeg professional basketball teams.

In 1996 and 1997, the court journeyed to the Keystone (Westoba) Centre in Brandon for the Canada Basketball National Championships and the Canada Games, respectively, further cementing its status as a symbol of basketball presence in Manitoba.

Even Hollywood recognized the court's significance. In 2001, it starred in the ESPN movie “A Season on the Brink” alongside actors Brian Dennehy and several locals playing roles such as players and referees in the basketball scenes. Its final cinematic appearance came in 2022 in “Champions”, with opening scenes filmed at the Canada Life Centre. The court also hosted the Harlem Globetrotters countless times, further solidifying its status as a stage of basketball entertainment in Manitoba.

In 2016, the court found itself on the University of Winnipeg Axworthy RecPlex soccer field, hosting the Canada Basketball National Championships, where local talents like Emmanuel Akot and Daniel Sackey and newly signed Sea Bear Mason Bourcier showcased their skills.

The inaugural Winnipeg Sea Bears season 2023 was played on the court at the Canada Life Centre in downtown Winnipeg, breaking league attendance records in several games that hit the hardwood.

As the final chapter draws near, the court's last official event will be at the Parkland Recreation Complex curling rink from August 11 to 17, when the 2024 Manitoba Games will be held in Dauphin, Manitoba. 

The new court will help Basketball Manitoba attract other world-class basketball events to the province well into the future. Basketball Manitoba recognizes and is grateful for the financial support provided by the Province of Manitoba via the Arts, Culture, and Sport in Community Fund to solidify the acquisition of the new court.

While there may still be some casual future use of the court, one thing is clear: the legacy of Manitoba's historic hardwood court will forever be etched in the annals of basketball history.


About the Winnipeg Sea Bears

The Winnipeg Sea Bears joined the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) as an expansion franchise in 2023. The city's only professional basketball team plays out of Canada Life Centre from May to August in a 20-game regular season schedule. In the team’s inaugural season, it placed second in the Western Conference and set new records for CEBL attendance on three occasions. The organization became the first in CEBL history to win four major awards: MVP (Teddy Allen), Sixth Man of the Year (Jelani Watson-Gayle), U SPORTS Player of the Year (Simon Hildebrandt) and Coach of the Year. The front office subsequently was awarded the 2023 CEBL Franchise of the Year.  

More information on the Sea Bears can be found at and @wpgseabears on Instagram, X, TikTok, LinkedIn & Facebook.

About Basketball Manitoba

Basketball Manitoba operates as the recognized Provincial Sports Organization for basketball in Manitoba. Its core responsibility revolves around ensuring equitable access to basketball programs for all Manitobans while fostering widespread enjoyment of the sport. A central focus of Basketball Manitoba's endeavours is promoting and developing basketball throughout Manitoba. Its membership comprises players, coaches, and referees registered through their respective associations, collectively contributing to the dynamic basketball landscape within the province.

More information about Basketball Manitoba can be found at  

Social Media:

Facebook: /wpgseabears

Twitter: @wpgseabears

Instagram: wpgseabears

Media Contact:

Stefanie Lasuik

Director, Communications & Marketing


The following is a collection of photos from iconic moments in Manitoba's basketball history, all of which used the old court to stage the event.  

1967 & 1999 - PAN AM GAMES - WINNIPEG





1990s - 2000s - NBA EXHIBITION GAMES

2000s - 2020s - FEATURE FILM MOVIE USE




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