ANDREW MATHIESON THE EXAMINER A proposal to reconfigure the Silverdome may possibly extend to transporting parts of the seating structure from the Derwent Entertainment Centre north up the highway for Tasmania home games to bring it up to NBL standards.
Launceston is expected to host at least two games for the new NBL team, but that could change in its inaugural 2021-22 season should the capacity increase further.
The Prospect venue had 3220 seats for its 2017 netball Test match between Australia and New Zealand, but past basketball fixtures since that include last year’s NBL Blitz had less fans inside.
New Tasmania NBL chief executive Simon Brookhouse has already delivered a firm commitment to upgrade the team’s Northern home court.
“There is a commitment to play two games up there off the bat,” Brookhouse said.
“You would like to consider however many you can play there, but right at the moment it’s not NBL ready.
“There has been talks with the government and we will certainly be seeking support from government for funding of a possible upgrade to get it to be that NBL ready.
“On top of that, we will look at our ability to move equipment if need be from the DEC to the Silverdome.
“Ultimately it’s about creating a great fan experience, and if we can work with government through funding to help us support upgrading the Silverdome that benefits our sport but also others.”
Super Netball has become an annual user at the Silverdome and could be set to play two games after losing one this year during lockdown.
Brookhouse was very open to ideas on reconfiguring the Silverdome floor that has to be flexible given it was built for a cycling velodrome more than 35 years ago.
But the 49-year-old that has detailed CV in the sport including four seasons presiding over Hobart Chargers two decades ago was keen to make Launceston’s largest ever indoor arena, “the best possible venue it can be”.
“I think our ultimate aim is to get to a number that suits the NBL crowds, but it is difficult for me to comment on that without having a look at the metrics,” he said.
“If it was all about, let’s say getting a 4,000-seat boutique stadium and all the pricing levels are right, you can still make it financially viable.
“But it’s more about not so much just the seating, but things like the digital signage capacity, the comfort levels with hosting your corporate partners but also the money-can’t-buy experience whenever fans go to a game.
“So there’s probably a lot more to it than just seating.”
Brookhouse said the turnaround of York Park into modern-day UTAS Stadium is a perfect example of how to improve a venue and leave a legacy for the sporting community.
“That has been a fantastic initiative, so if we can promise to bring the big dance to town,” he said, “and work in with the Launceston community, there is a way we can lobby all governments to see what we can do.”
Brookhouse said that NBL boss Larry Kestelman is also backing the ambitious plans to be the only club that he owns with two home venues.
“The real great thing about Larry, his energy and the league itself, they get things done. So we will be doing everything we can to get what needs to be done,” he said.