FOLLOWING last week’s confirmation that MK Lions will be leaving the city, the Citizen can reveal that the British Basketball League club have taken up an incredible offer to move into the Copper Box arena in London’s Olympic Park.
Lions chief executive Vince Macaulay said he was devastated by having to leave Milton Keynes after 15 years because he could not find a place for the club to play.
However, with a move to the stunning 6,000 capacity Copper Box – which has been the home of the Olympic handball competition – now confirmed, Lions can finally look forward to an optimistic future.
Lions’ days in Milton Keynes were seemingly numbered after the club was forced to leave Bletchley Leisure Centre, with the hope of one day playing in the arena next to stadium:mk.
Short spells playing at Middleton Hall and a converted warehouse in Winterhill only proved to be a temporary fix, and with the arena now no longer an option, and no other permanent base in the city available, Macaulay has been left with no other choice but to seek a home elsewhere.
With the Olympics still ongoing and the new BBL season just over six weeks away, Lions will not be able to move into the Copper Box until next year.
That move will come in time for the start of the 2013/14 BBL season, so in the meantime Lions will play their home games – the first against league champions Newcastle Eagles on September 23 – at the Crystal Palace National Indoor Arena in south London.
The club will now be known as the London Lions. Their colours have not yet been decided, but they will no longer play in their traditional black and gold. Macaulay will go back to coaching the senior team, with Mike New remaining in Milton Keynes to head up the club’s continuing basketball programme at MK College.