Andre Levingston said he had never heard of Halifax before the opportunity to put a professional basketball team here arose two years ago.
But now the 44-year-old owner of the Halifax Rainmen not only knows this city, he proudly calls it home.
“I am 100 per cent Halifax. I am 100 per cent Haligonian,” the Detroit native said. “This is tremendous right now. I wake up everyday excited about starting my day because this is something I really want to do. I know with the success of this organization, what that’s really going to mean to this city and the kids, so I work hard at it.
“For this to fail in Halifax, I would get a sense of tremendous (personal) loss.”
Things are certainly looking up for the Rainmen through two seasons. The team is coming off its first winning campaign and has seen its average attendance per game go up by about 1,000 fans.
But the club isn’t just making an impact on the court. Levingston makes it a priority for his players to also give back to the community.
“If you’re going to play in Halifax you have to be involved in community activities,” he said.
“Sports is very grassroots, especially with the way the economy is today, and if you don’t have a community presence, you’re not going to be successful.”
The former school teacher also co-owned a business in Detroit, launching a new career that eventually led him to Toronto, where he opened more businesses, including a restaurant.
He said the Rainmen are the only business he currently owns, and feels there is potential for real growth in Halifax — for himself and the entire business community.
“I think it’s a city that’s definitely on the rise and a lot of other companies are starting to see that as well, and are putting their headquarters here,” he said. “I think in the years to come Halifax is going to boom.
“There is a lot of people that like to see Halifax stay the way it is,” Levingston added. “While I can respect that because it’s a beautiful city and has a lot of great landmarks, if we don’t grow, we will lose a lot of the young people because there won’t be any reason for them to stay here. We don’t have to lose what Halifax is and what it’s about, but it definitely needs to grow.”