NBL says no to new team in Brisbane
BRISBANE will not have a team in the National Basketball League next season because the city does not have a suitable venue.
Despite former NBL chief executive Fraser Neill promising last October that Brisbane would return to the national competition for the first time since 2008, just 12 months after it won its third national title, NBL chairman Graeme Wade has confirmed that commitment would not be kept.
APN revealed exclusively in January that a consortium headed by West Australian businessman Paul Bendat, whose multi-millionaire father Jack owns the Perth Wildcats, had reached agreement with the NBL to ressurect a team in the Queensland capital.
But Wade said while the group had met every criteria needed to get a franchise back up and running, the lack of a suitable indoor facility to hold at least 5000 spectators had been the sticking point.
"It is unfortunate there is not a venue of the appropriate standard to accommodate an NBL team," he said.
"The league is not prepared to put at risk the long-term viability of a club by using unsuitable venues." With stadiums at Auchenflower and Boondall being too small, the best options appeared to the Brisbane Convention Centre at Southbank, or the Queensland Tennis Centre.
But Wade said the Convention Centre had issues including availability and cost, despite the fact the Queensland Firebirds play some of their home games in the trans-Tasman netball championship at the venue.
He also said the Tennis Centre, which can seat 5500 fans, was an excellent facility but was ruled out because it was not fully enclosed, something that was required under NBL rules.
The roof is suspended above the stadium, and it has gaps between the roof and walls.
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While Brisbane is out of the picture for next season, it seems the competition will again have eight teams despite financial concerns at the Wollongong Hawks and Townsville Crocodiles.
Both franchises went into voluntary administration at the end of last season, but Wade said he was confident they would be back in the competition in 2015-16.
The uncertainty over those two clubs has meant the NBL has been forced to push back the official start of free agency until May 15 so they are able to sign players.