JOSH PARTRIDGE THE EXAMINER As Tasmania looks set to accomplish its NBL dream, the ball is in Launceston’s court as to whether the North remains involved.
Larry Kestelman, owner and executive chairman of the NBL, has flagged his desire to buy the Derwent Entertainment Centre and Wilkinsons Point and has now entered direct negotiations with Glenorchy City Council.
Showing his support for Tasmania becoming the tenth team in Australia’s national basketball competition, Kestelman threw down the gauntlet for an appropriate Northern venue to create a statewide entity.
“We want this to be Tasmania’s own team and be embedded in this unique part of Australia,” Kestelman said.
“We propose that games would be played at DEC but we would also consider playing games in Launceston provided there is an appropriate venue to host NBL games. Most importantly this must be a team for all of Tasmania and have a presence across the state.”
Launceston Mayor Albert Van Zetten is thrilled about the opportunity of a Tasmanian-based NBL side and the benefits it would bring.
“The City of Launceston would embrace with open arms future National Basketball League games in our city,” he said.
“We know the sorts of positive impacts sporting events bring to the local economy – as we’ve seen through our relationships with the Hawthorn Football Club and Hobart Hurricanes – and the pathways they create for our young people.
Having already met with Premier Will Hodgman, Kestelman spoke of the state’s love for sport and the importance of the league becoming one of the first national competitions to feature a fully-fledged Apple Isle team.
“Tasmanians are passionate about sport and crying out for more of their own teams in national sporting leagues and we believe it’s something that fans are ready for and will embrace.” Kestelman said.
“We want basketball to be the number one sport in Tasmania.”
The state’s basketball history is already well storied with two sides of each gender competing in Australia’s second-tier basketball competition, NBL1 alongside Southern Huskies breaking new ground and producing NZNBL involvement.
These landmarks have not gone unnoticed by Kestelman and the NBL ahead of their DEC proposal.
“We now look forward to progressing negotiations with Glenorchy City Council and working with the Tasmanian Government.
Premier Will Hodgman described Kestelman’s interest in Tasmania as an “exciting development” and spoke of a meeting next week to flesh out more details.