ALEX FAIR THE ADVOCATE Ulverstone appears to be in the box seat to host NBL Blitz games on the Coast as both of the councils associated with the region’s suitable basketball stadiums expressed interest on Wednesday in being a host venue.
NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman on Tuesday revealed he was planning to bring the “pre-season event” to the region when it is held in Tasmania in September, with Central Coast Council Mayor Jan Bonde confirming her council has had some contact with the NBL about playing matches at the recently named Oliver’s Bakery and Cafe Stadium at Ulverstone.
“The council has had initial contact with NBL representatives and welcomes further discussion on the NBL games being held in the Ulverstone stadium,” Cr Bonde said.
She also confirmed the stadium, home of the North-West Thunder, would be free during the September 19-22 timeline of the event.
Devonport Mayor Annette Rockliff also indicated a keenness for her city to host matches.
“(The) council would be keen to discuss hosting the tournament or matches between those dates but as yet has not been approached by the NBL or State Government to do so,” she said.
Basketball Tasmania chief executive Chris McCoy last week said both the stadiums at Ulverstone and Devonport were at “NBL pre-season standard”.
The move to bring matches to the region has been welcomed by North-West Thunder chairman Tony Barker, saying it was only right the “basketball heartland” was involved.
He believed the North-West Coast basketball community, and sports lovers in general, would lap up the opportunity to see some of the best in the business up close and personal.
“You look at the various comments around this, and it is that it has to be statewide if it is to be successful and it just can’t operate from Hobart, so if they can get a presence with a game or a couple of games here, I think that will be a real bonus for this region,” he said.
“Depending on which teams that play and with some of the big name players, be they experienced or up and coming players, people will just want to come and have a look at them, so I don’t think there will be any problem getting a crowd.
“I think this is really exciting and feels like it (basketball in Tasmania) has been building, with the news now that the Blitz is coming here that has just taken it to the next level and is something that people can jump on board with.”
But he warned that if Tasmania were to be successful in again having a team in the NBL, people would need to vote with their feet.
“For anybody who is interested in having a team based in Tassie get along and support this and show the league that it could be a goer.”
The NBL Blitz’s visit to the Coast could create a jam-packed weekend of sport for the region, with the NWFL grand final scheduled for Saturday, September 21.