Sutton: Tasmania's support needed to continue Southern Huskies NBL goal

Southern Huskies COO, Mike Sutton recently shared his thoughts on The Mercury, about his experiences with the wonderful people in Tasmania, and how the community's support is needed for the Huskies to rally into their final goal: the NBL.

"As a co-founder of the Southern Huskies, along with Justin Hickey, our goal, which we have made no secrets about, is to own/control our stadium environment to enable us to compete in the Australian National Basketball League," Sutton wrote.

"This needs to be done in a sustainable way to ensure long-term viability for all Tasmanians to enjoy their team. Obviously, entry into the NBL is in the hands of the NBL itself, and we are doing everything in our power to achieve this."

The focus on long-term sustainability isn't new, the Huskies confirmed this in an earlier exclusive with The Pick and Roll's Ben Mallis.

“Basketball is obviously an important cog in the wheel,” CEO Justin Hickey explained back in August last year. “As is ensuring that there is a venue which is modelled to the highest standards, to ensure we can attract events which traditionally have avoided Tasmania because of the current venue situation.”

“The plan is to unite the state,” Hickey said. “It is super important.

“We feel we can ensure when people are visiting Tasmania, whether in Launceston, Burnie, Devonport and Hobart, they understand it is the home of the Southern Huskies."

Sutton also discussed the changes that had happened since their initial aim of playing in the NBL, and how the consortium had ventured into not only the NZBL, but also the NBL1 league.

"It’s a huge investment and one that we have started this year because we have two teams playing as the Hobart Huskies in the Victorian NBL1 League and one team playing as the Southern Huskies in the NZNBL League. Both are excellent leagues in their own right."

The constant travel and logistics for all three teams (NZNBL, NBL1) have been a drain on the Huskies consortium's funds.

The group recently received a $200,000 "interim support package" from the Tasmanian state government, in support of their continued participation in the NZNBL.

It's unclear if the Huskies' bid to claim an NBL license is in conflict with NBL owner Larry Kestelman's plans. Kestelman is reportedly in discussions to purchase the DEC, and presumably put an NBL team in Tasmania.

In the same piece, Sutton also reflected on the numbers involved, be it the fans, or people working behind the scenes, and how it all comes together for a game to happen.

"So, it comes back to people. Why are we here and putting in this huge investment into the state? To me, if we can add some value and impart a positive impact on the lives of 4000 then we have fulfilled our “why?”.

"If we can do this nine or 10 times a year, then even better. From the Huskies’ point of view, playing in the NBL will better position us to achieve this.

"To that end, we need a strong partnership with Government, which we have been working on since December and have now secured.

"We need the support of local businesses to continue — and also all the amazing, hardworking, passionate people of Tasmania coming together as one."

Read the full piece: Talking Point: It takes a state to build a team