Devonport to host North-West Thunder for four SEABL games in 2018

BY BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE   A desire to engage more of the community will see the North-West Tall Timbers Thunder return to the Devonport Recreation Centre for part of its 2018 SEABL campaign.

Starting with the blockbuster intrastate clash with Hobart on April 14, the Thunder will play four of its ten home games at the court they called home up until the 2010 season and also won the national championship at in 1996 when they were known as the Originals.

The remaining six games will take place at their current home court, Ulverstone’s Schweppes Arena. 

Confirming the announcement at a press conference on Monday, Thunder chairman Tony Barker said the fact they already had to play one game in Devonport this year due to court unavailability got the club thinking about how to broaden its appeal.

“What we need to do is drive our supporter numbers, and Devonport gives us a bit bigger venue to be able to do that and the opportunity to find out what we can get from that,” he said.

“We’ve been very well-supported at Ulverstone and we’ve got a real keen focus to connect with our community going forward and operating in two venues gives us that opportunity.

“We also only have the 10 home games this year so it gave us the chance to sell a different kind of product to our sponsors by having some games here as well.

“It will be a change but in these days you have to be prepared to make some changes and while Devonport is different venue for us these days, the club has a big history with the SEABL in this city.”

The club has also appointed Michael Rowlands to head up their marketing and sponsorship department.

The former Thunder player said spectators can expect to see plenty of changes on game nights at both venues as they attempt to gain a definitive home-court advantage against visiting teams.

“It’s more about getting around community groups and being a platform for them to succeed and show their talents,” Rowlands said. 

“When we lose we probably lose 10 per cent of our crowd, so the focus is moving away from that old-school model and involving as many community groups as possible.”

“I think we need to get the crowd going a bit more, and there is a heap of stuff we’re working on and we also surveyed our sponsors and our pre-game and in-game entertainment wasn’t rated highly which we need to get better at as well.”

The Thunder’s season gets underway on Saturday, April 7 at Ulverstone against, with further home games at Devonport against Geelong (May 5), Mt Gambier (May 19) and new team Diamond Valley (June 16).

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