OLD SCHOOL: Newcastle Basketball Stadium at Broadmeadow was built more than 50 years ago.NEWCASTLE Basketball’s long and frustrating wait for a new home might soon be over.
Lake Macquarie Council announced on Wednesday plans for a multi-million dollar complexat Hillsborough that it predicted wouldbecome “the Hunter Region’s premier indoor sports centre”.
Council staff have recommended setting aside an unused parcel of council-owned land at Hillsborough for the next 12 months, while further investigations are carried out into the feasibility of building a facility that incorporates 10 basketball courts, including a centre court capable ofseating up to 4000 spectators.
If it proceeds, the new centre would replace the proposed stadium and courts at Broadmeadow, for which $5 million in state government funding was announced two years ago.
Construction has never started at that site.
Initially it was delayed by anAwabakal land-rights claim, and then a surge in participation numbers prompted Newcastle Basketball officials to reassess their requirements.
Lake Macquarie Councilwill consider the recommendation to set aside the 6.7-hectareparcel of land between Waratah Avenue and the Newcastle Inner City Bypass – behind Hillsborough Public School – at a meeting on Monday.
“It is still early days, but a new state-of-the-art basketball centre in the heart of Lake Macquarie would cement our city’s standing as the region’s epicentrefor youth and senior sport,” Lake Macquarie mayorKayFrasersaid in a statement.
Newcastle Basketball’s plans for a new stadium have been put on holdBroadmeadow concept plan reveals ‘new look’ sport precinctNewcastle Hunters basketball game abandoned after roof leak at Broadmeadow“It would also help grow sporting participation in our city, not just with basketball but netball, wheelchair sports, volleyball, school sport and futsal.
“This will significantly contribute to creating a more active, engaged and healthy community.”
Newcastle Basketball general manager NeilGoffetsaid his organisation had outgrown its Broadmeadow headquarters, which is more than 50 years old.
“We’re in the process of seeking NSW Government funding to establish a new facility,” Goffetsaid.
“Ensuring we have a modern venue to meet the growing demands of aspiring basketballers is our top priority.”
Goffet told the Herald in June that it would be ideal if Newcastle hada stadium of national-league standard.
“Part of the planning is to explore options for a WNBL teamandeven discussions in the future about re-entry into the NBL, but we need to get a newstadiumbuilt first,” Goffet said at the time.
When the $5 million upgrade at Broadmeadow was initially announced, in October 2016, Newcastle Basketball hoped the new arena would be completed in time to enter ateamin the 2018-19 WNBL competition.
Basketball told Newcastle officials to instead focus on making a successful bid for season 2019-20, but that time frame is now unrealistic.
Newcastle has not been represented in the NBL since 2006, when the Hunter Pirates foldedafter a three-season existence.
The Newcastle Falcons were one of the NBL’s founding clubs in 1979, along with Canberra, WollongongandBrisbane, before their demise20 years later.
Newcastle’s most recent attempt to host NBL-standard action ended in embarrassment in September, when a trial match between Sydney Kings and Illawarra Hawksat theNewcastleEntertainment Centre was abandoned at the 11thhour because players complained the floorboards were slippery and dangerous.
An estimated 3000 spectators had their tickets refunded.
Meanwhile, former Newcastle Hunters juniorBenSimmonshas rested his troublesome back asDetroit Pistons scoreda dramatic 133-132 NBA overtime victory over his Philadelphia 76ers.
Simmonsis no certainty for the Sixers’ next assignment at the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesdayas he manages back tightness.
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