Melbourne gets second NBL team, to be based in south east

As reported last week, the Victorian State government is offering a huge boost to the sport of Basketball in the coming years. For your interest here is a full report from The Age, dated September 2nd.

The NBL’s new franchise will be in the South East Melbourne. Now, they need a name.
The NBL confirmed the long-suspected location on Sunday after a $126-million election commitment from the Victorian government to refurbish and expand the State Basketball Centre at Wantirna South.

The new south east Melbourne team, owned by Romie Chaudhari, co-owner of English Championship soccer team Swansea City, will be based at the centre for administration and training purposes but play at Melbourne Arena.

The new NBL team could also play two games per season at the State Basketball Centre once the renovations are completed, around 2022.

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Sunday’s announcement also featured a $1 million commitment to develop a business case for a 6000-8000 seat Knox Arena in the precinct but funding for Knox Arena’s construction and planning was not included in Sunday’s announcement.

Melbourne Arena will also receive $13 million in upgrades, which will help boost the capacity for basketball and netball games.

The NBL was not going to lock the team into Melbourne until they had commitments from the state government on the upgrade of the offices and training facilities, with the team planning to be based at the venue ahead of their first season in 2019-2020.

A re-elected Labor government would invest $82 million and Knox City council $25 million into building 10 new courts, making 18 in total at the State Basketball Centre, along with the upgrades to the current showcourt, expanding the office facilities and giving the locker rooms a much-needed renovation.

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The Victorian opposition have yet to commit to matching the government’s funding package but NBL and other basketball officials will be meeting with them in an attempt to gain their support.

General manager of the new Melbourne team, Tommy Greer, said the team already had a website established to register new fans and they would soon open a contest to select a nickname and colours.

“First and foremost we want to insert ourselves in the community out here but that is not given, you have to earn that,” Greer said.

“We will put the name and colours out to the community, we want everyone to jump onto southeastmelbourne.com.au to register interest and we will keep everyone across the movements from there.”

Signing players is still a way down the track considering the new NBL season will soon begin but Greer is already keeping a close watch on overseas-based Australians and those on the fringe of the NBA like Victorian star Mitch Creek.

NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger said the decision to base the new team in the south east was finalised by the funding commitment for the stadium, which already houses the offices of Basketball Australia, Basketball Victoria, WNBL club Melbourne Boomers and the Knox Raiders Basketball Association.

“It was unquestionably the deciding factor amongst a number of compelling propositions, and I applaud the Victorian government and Knox City Council for their recognition of the importance of basketball in the Australian sporting landscape,” Loeliger said.

“Melbourne’s south east has long been the stronghold of basketball participation in Australia with about 100,000 of Victoria’s 240,000 total registered participants and it has a rich history in elite and community basketball.”

There is an option for Basketball Australia to move its Centre of Excellence from the Australian Institute of Sport to the State Basketball Centre but that is contingent on the new facilities being better than the state of the art training centre in Canberra which the COE shares with the NBA Global Academy.

For the COE to move to Melbourne, the State Basketball Centre will also need a dormitory building to house 36 or more athletes and elite level treatment, dining and recovery facilities along with the technological and human support available in Canberra.

Little of that was funded in Sunday’s announcement so any move would be a long time away and the NBA has not yet considered any move from Canberra for its academy.

“We have a commitment with the Andrews government that said we have a high benchmark to compare with,” Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said.

“The AIS is a world-class facility and we have been consistent with our discussions with government saying this is what we have got, we have a Rolls-Royce solution in Canberra and the commitment from government is to better that.

“For our national high performance program to beat the world’s best, it would mean we would have something special here, in the event they don’t meet [that benchmark] then that will be a discussion for our board at a future point in time.”

Melbourne Boomers could receive the most immediate rewards should whoever wins government carry out the upgrades as they play their home games at the stadium and badly need an expanded locker room with the current one too small to comfortably fit 12 elite players.

The Boomers have four players in the Opals squad to play in the FIBA Women’s World Cup later this month and also featured Liz Cambage last season.

“With improved amenities, court technologies and improved game-day experiences for all of our fans, we are going to see a terrific show court here,” Boomers general manager Justin Nelson said.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/basketball/melbourne-gets-second-nbl-team-to-be-based-in-south-east-20180902-p50198.html

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