Manawatu part of ANBL bid

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 21/08/2014

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Manawatu may be part of the new base for an expansion team in the Australian National Basketball League.

Businessman Bill Wallace is part of a group putting a bid together for a team based in Wellington and Palmerston North to join Auckland's Breakers in the Australian competition.

Wallace said they were working to get a licence from the Australian NBL to operate a team with a fan base of central New Zealand (Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Wellington and the top of the South Island).

The five New Zealand NBL teams from the central region would be the feeders.

He said it would take a while to get over the line, but they are doing a lot of work on a bid.

"The Australian NBL has been very particular about the licensee having the capability to run a club and have the financial stability that's required at the moment," Wallace said.

"What we're doing is working out how that financial sustainability can be achieved."

He said they were looking at making the club a co-operative ownership model with the basketball community, to make sure there's a strong link between the amateur and professional game.

The model involving local government, Basketball NZ and spreading games across the lower North Island is the preferred model of the ANBL.

Wellington's Nick Mills has been driving for a Wellington-based franchise, but hit snags earlier this year after his bid differed from the ANBL's preference.

The ANBL hopes to expand from eight to 16 teams within five years.

Also working with Wallace is Greater Wellington Regional Council chairwoman and former Labour MP Fran Wilde, Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter and Palmerston North's Craig Nash, from Spearhead Manawatu.

This bid, along with Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Tasmania, are contenders for four spots in the league in the 2015-16 season.

"That might be a bridge too far, probably the following year, but you never know," Wallace said.

Wallace was approached by the ANBL chief executive Fraser Neill about whether the region could maintain a team and after some research, he thought it could.

"We've just been talking since," Wallace said. "Now it's gathering momentum."

He said they need backers, but wouldn't approach anyone without a sound financial case and had to make sure they had a quality bid.

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- Manawatu Standard

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