NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger has made it clear that although the NBL is keen to expand the number of teams in the competition it is not something they will do flippantly.
Despite recent talks with businesses and councils in cities like Canberra, Hobart, Auckland, Gold Coast and even China, there is still a lot of work to be done until we see a ninth team join the NBL.
On the recent Aussie Hoopla podcast, we questioned the leagues Chief Executive Officer on what needs to happen for a new city to earn an NBL licence.
Loeliger made it abundantly clear that aspiring NBL clubs would not be allowed into the competition without a business case that made financial sense.
“Teams need to show us that the club would be financially viable from year one. The NBL has had a tattered history of teams coming in and out of the league in short periods of time and we’re not prepared to let that happen again” said Loeliger.
The ability to prove there is enough demand from the fans and local businesses in that area to sell tickets and sponsorship’s that would see a team profit in year one is a no-brainer and in alignment with the financial success we’ve seen within the NBL during the Larry Kestelman era.
In addition to that, a seldom realised issue for aspiring NBL teams, that being a stable framework and that prospective NBL clubs can prove that there infrastructure available to successfully hold basketball games at an NBL standard.
“Demonstrating that their is infrastructure available to host a team in that whatever city that might be is crucial. I don’t think there is any one city where there is room for an NBL team without having a pretty serious conversation with local councils and state government about insuring access to infrastructure”.
Gold Coast and Townsville are both recent cities to have lost their NBL teams, its no coincident that both played convention centers. Convention Centers can pose a unique issue to NBL success after all a convention centers business model isn’t based on solely on hosting professional sporting matches. Holding events such as trade shows, concerts, conventions and various expos are often in the financial best interest of a convention center, making it difficult for an NBL team to secure dates.
This isn’t to say a team can’t play out of a convention center, the Cairns Taipans are doing so very effectively right now, but it’s something which needs to be clearly reviewed as part of any new team’s business case.
“Until a team can approach us with a multi-faceted business solution where they have sponsors, fans and infrastructure all in the one place and are supportive of this idea, you would be very hesitate to jump into something like that unless all of those things are present” Loeliger confirmed.
Despite a second New Zealand team noting they had secured investors in November 2015 and the Hobart Chargers announcing they are ahead of schedule for a proposed NBL in 2018, as yet, there have been no formal applications for a ninth NBL franchise.
“At this point no one has come with a ready made solution that addresses all those things. We’ve had several cities identify they’d like to enter the league but that they would need to address those things prior to making an application for expansion. No one has really put a formal proposal to us yet because we’ve been very clear about what would be required to issue a new license for a team to enter the league” said Loeliger.
The league itself is looking at ways to expand the competition and it understands it is crucial to continue to make the league successful.
Give credit to Hobart, there are very few cities that have clear NBL aspirations like they do. Ultimately a new team will need a passionate group behind them to make an expansion team a success. Besides the Hobart Chargers and Melbourne Tigers (who are still a long way off) no club in a state league competition has publicly announced it’s intentions to reach the NBL.
“We do want to expand, but we wont expand just for the sake of expansion. It needs to be justified. There are a number of conversations ongoing and I would like to think in the next couple of years we’ll have ten teams in the competition”
Larry Kestelman has already said he wants new clubs to enter the competiton by 2018, but it’s clear there is a lot needed to happen before it becomes a reality.