HAMISH GEALE THE ADVOCATE Premier Peter Gutwein insists the state’s NBL dreams haven’t been blocked by the coronavirus outbreak. Tasmania was awarded the league’s 10th licence in late February, signalling the end of a 25-year absence from the national competition.
The deal with the NBL included a government-funded overhaul of the Derwent Entertainment Centre, which would act as the side’s main home court upon admittance for the 2021-22 season.
The coronavirus outbreak has since raised concerns about whether the stadium redevelopment will be completed in time, however, Gutwein said talks with league owner Larry Kestelman were going well. “I had a discussion with Mr Kestelman earlier this week, we’ve re-engaged and we’re working through that process,” Gutwein said.
“In terms of the financials that I brought down last Friday, the money for the upgrade of the DEC is captured in that infrastructure program moving forward so the funding is there and it’s accounted for.
“What we need to understand is when the NBL might start to play again and importantly what the league will look like moving forward, as every major sporting league will have been affected in some way as a result of coronavirus.”
Gutwein said both parties remained optimistic a Tasmanian team would progress as planned.
“Mr Kestelman certainly is very positive about the opportunity for a team, we’ve got the money in the budget to upgrade the stadium and I would hope we’d be able to progress but we’ll wait until we get further advice back from Mr Kestelman,” he said.
“I’ve asked him to come back with some further information and then we’ll continue to work through that.”
Meanwhile, Tasmania’s AFL matches remain in doubt as the league prepares to announce new fixtures for a season flagged to restart on June 11.
Gutwein confirmed earlier in the week that concessions to the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period would not be made for visiting AFL clubs, however, the state remains in contact with both Hawthorn and North Melbourne.
Both clubs are contracted to play four games a season in Tasmania in deals worth a combined $8 million.
“Once we have an understanding of what the season looks like later in the year and once we’ve got advice in terms of whether or not our border restrictions will stay in place in the same way that they are now, then we’ll make a decision on that,” Gutwein said.
“At this stage it’s too early to provide a position in terms of whether AFL will be played here or not and importantly whether or not crowds would even be able to attend those games.
“As the situation with coronavirus is better understood as we move through the different stages in terms of our border control in July, then we’ll be able to make a decision as to whether AFL will be able to be played here or not.
“At this stage our border restrictions won’t provide for the exemptions that the AFL is looking for.”