Tasmania is the front-runner for a new NBL franchise, with the league owner in exclusive negotiations to purchase and upgrade the indoor arena near Hobart.
NBL owner Larry Kestelman recently revealed he hoped to buy the Derwent Entertainment Centre and surrounding land to establish a new Tasmanian NBL team, to become the 10th franchise, following the establishment of new team South-East Melbourne Phoenix who’ll join the league in the upcoming season.
The Glenorchy City Council unanimously decided this week to enter exclusive negotiations with Kestelman for the venue and land at Wilkinson's Point. The Council will enter a 120-day negotiation period with the Tasmanian Government and Kestelman to determine the terms of negotiation before the proposal is put out for public consultation.
The $200 million proposal featured an upgraded entertainment venue, sports and recreation facility, retail and food and beverage spaces and accommodation, as well as public open spaces, which is broadly in line with the Council's masterplan for the site.
“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.” Kestelman said.
“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.
“We will also seek appropriate investment from other potential stakeholders and work with Basketball Tasmania and other interested parties. We believe there will be significant interest given the potential opportunity to be involved in a new franchise.”
Built in 1989, the 5,400-capacity indoor arena was the home of former NBL team Tassie Devils until 1996 and currently plays host to home games for the Southern Huskies who play in the New Zealand basketball league.
Plans were previously revealed a year ago by a consortium to spend $90 million on upgrading the venue, with concept drawings showing a revamped court and exterior, 1600 new premium seats, new changeroom and facilities as well as an integrated hotel.