Canterbury Tactix may lose home advantage

The Tactix may be forced to play several home games in enemy territory next season.

They have seven home matches scheduled for 2015, but are battling to secure available venues within the franchise boundary for those games.

The newly renamed Horncastle Arena in Addington and the Saxton Stadium in Stoke are the only venues in the Tactix area that meet trans-Tasman netball league criteria.

Venues must have a wooden-sprung court, with more than 3.05m run-off on all sides and be suitable for broadcasters and sponsors. Ideally, they must also have a capacity of more than 1500 for regular-season games.

Horncastle Arena and Saxton Stadium are both used for a multitude of different events and are in huge demand. The Tactix dilemma has been complicated by the closure of Nelson's Trafalgar Centre as a result of its earthquake risk.

Tactix chief executive Brigit Hearn said locking in venues for all of their home games was proving problematic.

Lack of venue availability meant the Tactix had to play the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Dunedin last year. Hearn feared a similar situation occurring again next year.

The Tactix could have to play one or potentially two games outside their home region, which would be a significant financial hit.

A paltry crowd turned out for the Dunedin clash with the Thunderbirds, and Hearn said they were doing all they could to keep the games within their own zone.

"It's not a home game if you're not playing before red-and-black. It's not something we would ever do lightly.

"It's certainly a last port of call to take them outside [the region]. We're looking to absolutely review all of our options before doing that."

Competition organisers TTNL had been supportive, allowing the Tactix to use smaller venues like Saxton Stadium in the short term. There was a certain amount of flexibility with the draw, but Hearn said the league also had nine other teams and broadcasters to consider.

"It's more complicated than just finding seven dates in Christchurch that work for us."

Christchurch's Cowles Stadium and indoor stadiums in Timaru and Blenheim fell short of the league's hosting requirements.

Hearn believed the issue around stadium availability highlighted the need for the fast-tracking of the proposed Metropolitan Sports Facility on the corner of St Asaph and Antigua streets.

Netball Mainland and Canterbury Basketball are keen supporters of the project.

Both sports are operating at capacity at community level and are struggling for court space around the city.

Hearn said it was vital a complex with a minimum of 12 courts, including a show court with seating for 3000 to 4000 people, was built.

With no suitable indoor facility existing, Christchurch is unable to host national age-group netball and basketball tournaments.

Netball New Zealand have shown interest in bringing a Silver Ferns test to the city, but date availability at Horncastle Arena made this difficult.

"It's criminal we don't have a decent indoor facility for our sport," Hearn said.

The Press