At long last, the NBL is set to return to Tasmania.
According to a report in The Mercury, a deal involving the redevelopment of the Derwent Entertainment Centre (DEC) is imminent, paving the way for Tasmania to return to the NBL for the 2021/22 season.
The details revealed in the news report outlined that there will be a $40m redevelopment of the DEC, the centrepiece of the NBL's plans to return to the Tasmania, an asset that will revert to state government ownership.
As part of the development, a planned community sports stadium will be constructed next to the DEC. NBL owner Larry Kestelman who has long invested in property development, is expected to purchase the surrounding Wilkinson Point area for development as part of his commercial interests.
The complex property and development deals all underpin a Tasmanian team which will be owned by Kestelman, entering the NBL in 2021/22 season.
“Tasmanians are passionate about sport and crying out for more of their own teams in national sporting leagues and we believe it’s something that fans are ready for and will embrace," outlined Kestelman back in June. "We want basketball to be the number one sport in Tasmania.
“We want this to be Tasmania’s own team and be embedded in this unique part of Australia. We propose that games would be played at DEC but we would also consider playing games in Launceston provided there is an appropriate venue to host NBL games. Most importantly this must be a team for all of Tasmania and have a presence across the state.”
“I see it having a component of sport and community, entertainment, food and beverage, and we see an opportunity to create some really great public space around the end [of Wilkinsons Point].
“If you have a look at places like the riverbanks of Melbourne, the riverbanks of Brisbane, I think there’s really an opportunity to do something a little special there that will drive seven-days-a-week type activation in the area.”
The news follows a successfully NBL preseason Blitz that returned top-level basketball to Tasmania for the first time since the demise of the Hobart Devils who had their licence revoked by the league directors in 1996 due to financial difficulties. Any Tasmanian team will require a new identity, as it is believed that the NBL does not own the intellectual property rights to the Hobart Devils.
It appears the stars have aligned between the much maligned Glenorchy City Council, the Tasmanian state government and Larry Kestelman's NBL in a boon for the sport in the Apple Isle.