The possibility of an NBL return to Tasmania is set to take another step toward reality on Monday night, with the Glenorchy City Council scheduled to vote on the sale of the Derwent Entertainment Centre (DEC) according to The Mercury.
As reported in December, the sale and $40 million redevelopment of the DEC remains the centrepiece of the NBL’s plans to return to the Tasmania. The asset that will revert to state government ownership under the proposed sale and be leased to the NBL's Larry Kestelman, who is expected to own and run the team until he can secure a team owner.
"We are looking at the sale of the Derwent Entertainment Centre at our council meeting on Monday night," Glenorchy City Council mayor Kristie Johnston explained.
“We hope to have a very big announcement on Tuesday morning.
“At last night’s planning authority meeting we considered initiating the planning scheme amendment for the greater Wilkinsons Point/Derwent Entertainment Centre precinct.
“That will be out on public consultation early next week.”
As part of the development to be funded by taxpayers, a planned community sports stadium will be constructed next to the DEC. NBL owner Larry Kestelman who has long invested in property development, has placed an offer to purchase the Wilkinson Point area for development as part of his commercial interests.
Kestelman at the time 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.
The complex property and development deals all underpin a Tasmanian team which will be owned by Kestelman, entering the NBL in 2021/22 season.
“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.”
On the SEN NBL Show this week, former Tasmanian Premier and NBL Tasmania Advisory Board Member David Bartlett spoke of his anticipation of an imminent NBL return to Tasmania.
“At this point in time, I have never been more confident that Tasmania will have an NBL team back here,” Bartlett explained.
“While I’m feeling confident, you never know until the deal is actually done. All of the indications from (NBL Owner) Larry Kestelman’s people, Larry himself, from our new Premier Peter Gutwein, our government, our new sports minister, the local government that currently owns the Derwent Entertainment Centre and are looking to sell it, all the indications are more positive than I’ve ever seen.”
Tasmania hosted a successful NBL preseason Blitz in 2019, returning top-level basketball to Tasmania for the first time since the demise of the Hobart Devils in 1996 due to financial issues. 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.
The outcome of the Glenorchy City Council meeting on Monday night could well determine if the NBL will return to Tasmanian shores for the 2021/22 season.