Tasmania's position as the potential 10th NBL team is firming up.
This morning, it was announced by the NBL that the Glenorchy City Council is entering an exclusive negotiation with the NBL owner and executive chairman, Larry Kestelman, on purchasing the Derwent Entertainment Centre (DEC) and Wilkinsons Point.
“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. We want basketball to be the number one sport in Tasmania," Kestelman said.
“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."
Kestelman also outlined his plans to redevelop Wilkinsons Point into a destination that could be similar to Melbourne's Southbank, in an exclusive with The Mercury.
“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.”
Kestelman also confirmed that he has met with the state government, which includes premier Will Hodgman and will meet with them again next week.
In a vein similar to Huskies COO Mike Sutton, Kestelman emphasized the need for the collective support of multiple parties in this venture, which includes the Tasmanian state government.
“Basketball is a global sport and the NBL is a global brand and there is a need for a significant upgrade to DEC so it can be brought up to world class standard for players and fans. We would look to the state government to support this upgrade and the team moving forward.
“This would enhance the venue and help attract more world class events but also enable it to become the home of basketball in Tasmania and a facility the whole community can enjoy."
It's still unclear if the Tasmanian team Kestelman envisions, will involve the Southern Huskies consortium. But it will definitely be the return of professional basketball, something that has not been in Tasmania since the Devils era.
The NBL will debut with its 9th team in the coming NBL 2019/20 season, with the South East Melbourne Phoenix.