Community support key to NBL franchise success
A NEW National Basketball League (NBL) in Ipswich must be a true community-backed club and should ideally play out of the city's basketball stadium.
That is the view of Ipswich Force men's coach Andrew Summerville in the wake of news that the NBL is investigating plans to place an elite Ipswich/Logan team in the western corridor of Brisbane in time for the 2015-16 season.
Summerville, a former Brisbane Bullets assistant coach in 2003-04, said the concept was a positive one for the code but needed to be well planned.
"I have coached in the NBL and I have been around the NBL for a while and the team (the Bullets) I coached with is no longer around because it didn't have community support," he said.
"So I would urge whoever is behind the bid, the community in general and the Ipswich City Council to make sure there is funding, support and backing behind the team - otherwise it will be a band-aid solution like the Logan Thunder where they are in one year and out the next.
"The benefits are fantastic but it has to be done properly and I would warn against rushing into something like this."
Summerville acknowledges Logan has a suitable stadium and may need to host games in the initial start-up period, but says Ipswich should pull out all stops to host games locally.
"Logan have a great facility but Logan is not a basketball town. Ipswich has strong basketball roots but everyone knows that Ipswich is a rugby league area," he said.
"It would be difficult for the community here to associate with an Ipswich team if they were playing out of Logan. It is a half-an-hour drive, so the key if there is going to be an Ipswich-based team is to find a facility in Ipswich."
If that is not achievable, he said that a "clever marketing strategy" would be needed to convince Ipswich sponsors to get on board.
NBL CEO Fraser Neill has investigated the Ipswich Basketball Stadium and said in yesterday's QT that the facility needed upgrading, but that it could be achieved.
Summerville agreed. "It definitely could be done," he said
"There is enough space and land there to do it. The NBL have a minimum seating requirement in their stadiums and currently we couldn't be able to achieve that because there isn't grandstand-style seating.
"So there would have to be some additions made to the size of the stadium, either to extend it or add in seating. "There would need to be some major upgrades. It will cost money but not as much as building a 5000-seat stadium."