ALEX FAIR THE ADVOCATE North-West Thunder chairman Tony Barker has expressed some caution at the idea of the Southern Huskies playing NZNBL games on the North-West Coast, believing the idea could only be a success if both clubs were part of the planning process.
Barker was responding to Huskies owner Justin Hickey sharing his wish on Monday that the club plays some of its NZNBL home games on the North-West Coast next season in an effort to truly be counted as a team for the entire state as it chases a place in the NBL.
While supportive of the idea, Barker on Tuesday said his club would need to be involved to ensure there would be no clashes with the Thunder’s NBL1 matches.
“I can understand their need to get enough support to do the things that they need to do, but the real thing for us is that there needs to be real communication, even negotiation, around the fixturing,” he said.
“We need to be part of that conversation and to make the world work for them and for us, we need to have games that line up in some sort of sensible fashion.
“We simply can’t have any fixtures that clash, and that is what it boils down to at the end of the day.”
Barker also believed the Thunder and the Huskies would need to be on the same page when it came to off-court matters as well, with the Thunder’s work in the community a significant part of their profile in the region.
It is an area that the Huskies would also need to invest in to really be accepted by the Coast.
“If we don’t work together in some degree than the community is really going to get confused at the end of the day, and that is not what we want,” he said.
“The outcome at the end of the day is that we want that community support and so kids know that there is at opportunity in basketball, and participation increases because of that extra interest, which can only be good for the sport.
“In theory that is what we are about, increasing participation and having a sport for everyone to play, but that is the difference between theory and reality is that if there is not enough communication and you have people almost running different agendas, the wheels can fall off, and that is not a place we want to be.
“So our message would be for communication from the outset around fixturing games and hopefully the New Zealand league and the NBL1 can also have that communication when they are putting rosters together to make the dates work.”
NWBU president Kim Robinson believed the Huskies playing matches on the Coast would be a beneficial exercise for the region and the state.
“We are absolutely supportive of the idea, as long as they weren’t competing on the same night as a Thunder game here, and I wouldn’t imagine they would be anyway,” she said.
“So we’d welcome any promotion of basketball, especially at that level, so it would be great to see them here.
“They have to everyone on board and have the support of the state, so it would make sense.
“They came up here for a charity match (in April) and were very well received and got rave reviews, so they would be welcomed here.”
Playing games on the North-West Coast would would extend from home commitments at Launceston’s Silverdome (five games) and Hobart’s Derwent Entertainment Centre (four), with Hickey not ruling out the idea of playing three games in each region a season.
Hickey on Monday said talks with the NZNBL about next year’s fixture would intensify as the year got older.
The Huskies, who faced initial fixture clashes with the Tornadoes this year which were eventually resolved, are in year one of a five year deal in the NZNBL.