BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE A NBL team with the ability to play regular-season games in all three regions of the state is the next step for Basketball Tasmania CEO Chris McCoy after Friday’s red-letter day for the sport.
League owner Larry Kestelman made the announcement that Tasmania would be the competition’s 10th team for the 2021-2022 season following the the Glenorchy City Council’s decision to sell the Derwent Entertainment Centre and Wilkinsons Point to the State Government.
While the plan is to play the majority of games at the renovated DEC and bring occasional games to Launceston’s Silverdome in the maiden season, McCoy said having a suitable venue on the North-West Coast would fit in with Kestelman’s charter of the team being for all Tasmanians.
“The intent is that it is a team for the whole state and in the first season there will be activity on the North-West Coast with players, school visits and pre-season games,” McCoy said.
“Then if there is a facility that is good enough over time, there would be games in the North-West as well.
Tasmania last had a presence in the NBL in 1996 through the Hobart Devils, but got a taste of what the league looks like now when the NBL Blitz pre-season competition hit the state in September last year.
The Blitz played to rave reviews and plenty of full stadiums, which McCoy said helped Kestelman make up his mind as to where a 10th team would go.
“Larry knew that with his dealings in Tasmania, having a team in here would be a fantastic opportunity for everyone,” McCoy said.
“But it was basically sealed in his mind once the Blitz came together in Tasmanian and he got to see the passion of the people towards basketball, the crowd numbers and how everyone from the clubs enjoyed coming here, which is just as important.”
Now that the team is assured, the process begins to get everything and everyone in place for the 2021-2022 season.
McCoy believes that with a team to call their own now, young male basketballers in Tasmania or those who currently ply their trade elsewhere can now dream about playing at the highest level in Australia and not have go very far to do so.
“We have a pretty good pathway now but having our own team in the NBL enhances it even more,” McCoy said.
“It will be important to have some sort of Tasmanian component in the team and Larry mentioned in his press conference that if all the team could be made up of Tasmanians that would be fantastic, but realistically there will be others as well.
“It is open to the Tasmanian talent if they are good enough and some of the guys we have over in the US at college at the moment like Tanner Krebs and Tre Armstrong can now aspire to play in a national league in Tasmania.”
Friday’s deal was finalised when the State Government purchased the DEC for $8 million, with another $40 million to be spent on upgrades and $2 million per year towards sponsoring the team.
While there is certain to backlash on the money spent from some areas, McCoy sees the government’s decision as sensible.
“It’s all part of an investment in the economy and in the state itself,” McCoy said
“We do it with AFL and with other sports and we get a great economic return for that investment.
“I think its a terrific investment from the government and they have been very supportive of Larry and his team right throughout the process and recognise that basketball is a top-level sport.
“With this announcement, it will go a long way to achieving our goal of becoming the number one sport in the state within five years time.
“It’s very different to 30 years ago in the fact that the league is going from strength to strength and you have a passionate business entrepreneur who is highly invested in the sport and has heightened the professionalism of the sport.
“While the league keeps going from record to record with attendance and commercial support it still has a lot of room to grow and it’s an ideal team for Tasmania to come into the league.”
The task of finding a name for the new team will conducted at a later date via a public poll conducted on the NBL Tasmania website (www.nbltas.com.au) where people can register there support for the side.