After stints with the Canucks and Canadians, sports exec Graham Wall is going back to basketball

The Vancouverite started his career with the Grizzlies and is now repping the Vancouver Bandits.

Vancouver Bandits

The Vancouverite started his career with the Grizzlies and is now repping the Vancouver Bandits 

Graham Wall’s story is one of persistence.  

After not making his high school basketball team in Grade 8, Wall was inconsolable. But Magee Secondary coach Paul Eberhardt kept the lights on for Wall and his friends, letting them practice as much as they wanted. Wall turned into a pretty good basketball player—a 5’11 guard that ended up earning a scholarship at what was then Mount Royal College (now University) in Alberta, which he led to national tournaments.  

A few years later, when the Vancouver Grizzlies came to town, that persistence kicked in again as Wall pursued his dream job. “I wrote up my resume and called them so many times,” recalls Wall with a laugh. “They were like, Graham, please stop calling us, we’re not interested, we don’t have a spot for you. The next day, I went down to Gate 5 and waited for the vice-president to get to his car, intercepted him and told him I’d do anything to work there.” 

About a month later, Wall was working a job in the restaurant biz when he got a call from the Grizzlies for a job selling ticket packages. “We called them Jam Packs back then, and Michael Jordan or Hakeem Olajuwon would be in your pack. I loved selling them.”  

Then came that fateful day in 2001. “[General manager] Stu Jackson came in and said we were going to lose the team. It was the saddest day of my career.”  

Wall decided not to relocate with the team to Memphis and instead worked for the Canucks as the team transitioned from the dreaded Mark Messier years to the West Coast Express days. Wall calls that period under general manager Brian Burke the “greatest sales season in the history of Canucks hockey. Brian Burke really rebuilt that team. We were soldiers for him, we would have gone through a brick wall for him.” 

When the 2004-05 NHL lockout hit, Wall decided to take his talents elsewhere and settled with a sports radio station. Shortly after that, he was approached by Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney, who had just purchased the Vancouver Canadians minor league baseball team. Wall became one of the new owners’ first hires. “We tore down the whole business and rebuilt it with strong fundamentals,” says Wall.  

These days, the Canadians are one of the hottest tickets in town, and Wall credits much of his philosophy in building sports organizations to Tod Leiweke, the sports czar who is currently president and CEO of the Seattle Kraken. Leiweke originally hired Wall when he was with the Grizzlies. “He taught me just how important it is to have folks at your games. It really drives the business model of any pro sports team,” says Wall.  

“We cleaned up the ballpark and made it a family event; the chairperson of the biggest bank in Canada would be happy to bring their family to a game, we made it a friendly, affordable experience with a lot of entertainment. And we made it a place to represent your brand on the marketing side.”  

Graham Wall

Now, Wall is going back to his basketball roots. Today, he was officially appointed vice president, sales and service, of the Langley-based CEBL team the Vancouver Bandits. He wants to make the Langley Events Centre (which also houses the WHL’s Vancouver Giants) a destination in the mold of Nat Bailey Stadium.  

“The level of basketball is unbelievable here,” he says. “People are going to be blown away with how great the players are and how great the basketball is. Our schedule comes out next week—we have to let folks know that this is where we are and it’s family-friendly, affordable, wonderful entertainment for everyone.” 

Wall also gives credit to the team’s new owners, Bryan Slusarchuk and Kevin Dhaliwal, for attempting to create a welcoming atmosphere at the LEC. “We have work to do,” says Wall. “We have to inform the market and the community that we’re here and we’d love to have them come out and welcome them to a Bandits game.” Something tells us he’s not going to take no for an answer.