ANDREW MATHIESON THE EXAMINER Launceston will have a say on the next NBL team set to land on Tasmanian shores. The recent push has been ramped up further since a visit from Larry Kestelman to Launceston earlier in the month that sowed the seeds for the creation of the NBL Tasmania advisory board that was unveiled on Friday.
Tornadoes chairwoman Janie Finlay joins Basketball chief executive Chris McCoy and former Hobart Chargers president David Bartlett with state tourism and hospitality heads Luke Martin and Steve Old to help guide Kestelman.
Bartlett has publicly said this week that both men have patched up their differences. Kestelman’s inclusion of the state premier, from 2008 until 2011, onto the advisory board is an early indication that the Chargers will be welcomed back in the fold to replace the Hobart Huskies.
Finlay first spent a couple of hours with Kestelman at the Country Club Tasmania together to talk basketball and promote Launceston. “I’m really proud to be that voice for Launceston and Northern Tassie,” she said.
“Larry and the NBL made it really clear this team is for Tasmania and made it very clear he’s not Tasmanian. “So he wants to wrap himself with people who are truly and deeply Tasmanian.”
Finlay, a Launceston City councillor, said Tasmanians – not the advisory board. Kestelman has been vocal for supporters of the bid to register their support on the www.nbltas.com.au website.
“There’s a lot of work that’s going to be done and it definitely has to be a team effort from Tassie to connect with him to demonstrate that we can support this to make it all viable,” Finlay said.
“I actually think Tassie basketball across the state is a pretty impassioned community. So I do feel really confident it will happen, but he’s not there just yet.
“Part of that is using us to be that conduit to connected deeply into the community.”
Kestelman first told The Examiner that the ideal plan was to commit a Tasmanian licence by the end of 2019 towards joining the NBL for the 2020-21 season.
That could also be pushed back another year should the model not be ready.
“He has a long runway ahead if he wants to make that annoucement by the end of this year,” Finlay said.
“I get the sense he will announce the team if there’s certainty around it.”
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Kestelman said in a statement, “but with the support of the people of Tasmania and our advisory board, we are very confident we can build something all Tasmanians will be proud of.”