Grounds for concern: Basketball ACT venue shortage hinders boom
Basketball ACT want to take matters into their own hands as they look to capitalise on the sport's rapid boom and avoid being left out in the cold during a venue crisis.
Basketball ACT chief executive Michael Haynes is desperate for more courts and has already started working with the ACT government in a bid to expend the Belconnen Basketball Stadium.
Basketball ACT is grappling with a court shortage.
The sport is enjoying a stunning rise in popularity on the back of the NBA's Australian stars like Canberra's Patty Mills and rookie of the year contender Ben Simmons, while the NBL and WNBL have re-emerged in the mainstream.
Haynes says it can be a struggle to fit every team in with Basketball ACT already using 20 courts in addition to the six they have at Belconnen for games and practice.
But rather than forcing potential players to miss out, Haynes is keen to ramp up discussions with the government and raise funds to build more courts around the capital.
"Absolutely, it is difficult, we’re working closely with the ACT government in relation to facility development," Haynes said.
"They’ve got their feasibility study. We also own the block of land here on the left hand side of the stadium and an ambition of ours is to extend this facility to there.
"It takes cash, so we need to raise some funds and obviously there will be mortgages and those sorts of things. We’ll work with the government about what support they might be able to give us.
"But we’re not just standing here with our hand out, we know we want to take control of the project."
Basketball ACT has experienced a surge in player numbers over the past two years, with 415 junior teams playing in the 2017 winter season – up from 350 the previous year in what is traditionally their "slow season".
Haynes says about 496 junior teams played in the recent summer season and he anticipates up to 420 teams will play in junior competitions this winter.
Couple that with over 200 senior teams and Basketball ACT is at the centre of a venue crisis that has left the governing body knocking on the door of school gyms.
Haynes says Basketball ACT uses stadiums at Belconnen and Tuggeranong, the AIS and Kingsford Smith high school for competitions but they will need to find another school soon.
"For competitions, one court venues and two court venues aren’t as efficient as four or five courts where your staff members and the cost of them is spread across more games," Haynes said.
"We try to get our competitions all into the bigger venues but the time won’t be far away where we will need to find at least probably one other school venue for competition.
"We’ve got some great school partners, but obviously schools and the AIS have their own needs. Come exam time, schools often need the gym to set the desks up and do exams and things like that.
"We work with the schools and they can give us a heads up as to when periods will be unavailable. When you do run competitions at schools you often have a few extra byes because of things like the school exams or the school musical production is in the same hall."
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