ANDREW MATHIESON THE ADVOCATE First it was the Tasmanian government asking for a brief breather from negotiating its NBL team from scratch amid being gripped by the impacts of the COVID-19 virus.
Now the Premier has put a halt to the refurbishment of the team’s hometown court. The proposal to restructure the Derwent Entertainment Centre is only temporary.
But the further delay may put a strain on the partnership with the NBL owners of the unnamed club.
NBL chief executive Larry Kestelman first announced Tasmania’s entry into the competition for the 2021-22 season back in February. The deal was on the proviso that the state government act as the new club’s major sponsor, which also included changing the face of the Derwent Entertainment Centre.
The NBL would also run daily operations of the 10th league club up until a suitable buyer could be found. Less than two months into building the team’s foundation, the government asked the NBL to put talks on hold for a two more months.
But in the midst of the state tightening its financial belt, Peter Gutwein said he will hold pouring taxpayer’s funds into a project just yet.
“Obviously for that model to work, we need to have a clear understanding of when national sport is going to be able to be played and importantly when crowds are going to be allowed into venues of that size,” Gutwein said at a press conference in Hobart.
“So I really think it’s important that we stick cautiously through that. In terms of Mr Kestelman and his proposal, I have certainly indicated to him that we want to proceed with that, but at the right time.”