Tasmania might be getting its own NBL team soon.
According to ABC, NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman will be negotiating with the Glenorchy City Council to buy the Derwent Entertainment Centre (DEC). According to The Mercury, Premier Will Hodgman confirmed Kestelman had strong interest in Tasmania being the next NBL team.
Kestelman has apparently met with the city council and state government over the past few months, and a formal announcement is expected to come from the Glenorchy City Council soon.
“I know [Tasmania loves] their basketball down there. We have spoken to them. It is definitely in the mix but I think we need to have a conversation with the government about it," Kestelman said back in February.
“Tasmania, I do think there is a case, I think it is a matter of everything coming together. I think those sort of markets definitely need their biggest business involvement, which is government.
“I think Tasmania, purely stand alone, might be a little bit challenging but I think a combination of real NBL support, local business support, fans and government, I think it is worth seriously considering it."
The Southern Huskies consortium, who have been making a bid for a Tasmanian NBL team since last year, engaged in a bid for the DEC in October. This did not come to fruition, due to a difference in opinions over the council's valuation. It was reported to be $18.6 million for accounting purposes, while the estimate from a commercial valuation was undisclosed.
The Southern Huskies consortium are currently fielding three teams: one in the New Zealand NBL (NZNBL), as well as a men's and women's team in the NBL1 as the Hobart Huskies. It is understood the NBL1 travel logistics have been a drain on the group, and the Tasmanian state government has offered support in the form of a $200,000 package, to allow the Southern Huskies continued participation in the NZNBL.
“It’s important to note that the Southern Huskies are currently delivering the only Tasmanian-based pathway into an elite basketball competition," Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein said. “Elite pathways are an important element in growing participation by young Tasmanians in sport.”
Huskies COO, Michael Sutton has confirmed the group's long-term commitment to Tasmania. “This is what people have to realise, we are here for the long term and it doesn’t matter how much we get beaten around. We are going to keep going because we can see the value in it from kids’ participation, the community, to the elite level and Tasmanians being proud of an awesome product.”
It's unclear who the owner of Tasmania's team license would be, but the move, when it happens would make it the NBL's tenth team, following the South East Melbourne Phoenix, which is making its debut in the coming NBL 2019/20 season.