Tiger grand stage hopes
It was touted several weeks ago that the Tigers wanted to return to their former home for a game on Boxing Day this year or a playoff game this season, and the NBL is eager to support both projects.
While the Tigers will make the playoffs, a home game at 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena rather than The Cage (3500 capacity) would turn it into a blockbuster, especially if it was a semi-final or grand final against the Sydney Kings.
Boxing Day at Rod Laver Arena could feature the NBL All-Star game, to be played in Townsville tonight, but is open to bids from the 11 NBL clubs to host it annually.
Either way, NBL commissioner Rick Burton is keen to get his league back in to Rod Laver Arena as part of the competition's renewed growth and expansion into Asia, even if it means helping underwrite the move.
"If we put a game into Laver and get 10-12,000, that then allows me with my discussions in places like China to very much be able to say this is a healthy thriving basketball league that is part of the global basketball footprint," Burton said in Townsville yesterday.
"You have to remember our sponsors are anxious for us to succeed."
The Tigers, sitting in fourth place on the Philips Championship ladder, will explore the Rod Laver
Arena option for next month's playoffs, and Burton believes it is a realistic chance of happening.
"If Melbourne finished third or fourth, they are guaranteed a home game five or six days out and we believe that is enough time for them to sell that," Burton said.
If the Tigers made a success, in terms of finances and attendance, of a playoff game at Rod Laver Arena, that would encourage them to bid for the All-Star game, possibly played with the roof open.
"Not just the Tigers, but maybe the city makes a bid and turns it into a big spectacular," Burton said.
"It has to be my agenda to get into the Laver's . . . and it has to be an agenda to get back to our open-air game."