AN Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) game could be coming to Invercargill for the first time.
ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt told the Southland Express negotiations with the New Zealand Breakers were well advanced to bring one of their 2018-19 home ANBL fixtures to the city.
Part of the contract would be that the Breakers also ensured Invercargill would be given a 2019-20 competition game, making it a two-year deal.
The sign-off now would depend on if they can gather the community support to make the event work, Mr Skelt said.
That support centred on likely spectator numbers, but also on community funding.
As part of the deal with the Breakers, ILT Stadium Southland would need to pull together an expected $90,000 to get the 2018-19 game to the venue.
To help cover that cost, Mr Skelt said they would need a crowd of about 2000 on the night, as well as some community funding input to make up the difference.
A decision either way would be finalised in four to six weeks after funding applications were considered, Mr Skelt said.
“We would need the support of the community to make this happen,” he said.
The Breakers have previously played two preseason fixtures at ILT Stadium Southland. If the deal is signed off, it will be the first time an actual ANBL competition game is played in the city.
The 2015 preseason fixture drew a crowd of 2200 and the 2016 fixture 1800.
Negotiations with ILT Stadium Southland were part of the new Breakers ownership group’s push to play some of its home games in other parts of the country this season.
Mr Skelt said the deal with the Breakers would see the players spend three days in Southland engaging with the public through school visits and other activities.
There are two dates being looked at for the game in Invercargill – one late this year and the other earlier next year.
Mr Skelt said basketball had a good following in Southland and the Breakers also had a strong connection with the province, which he believed would help make the event a success.
New Breakers coach Kevin Braswell helped the Southland Sharks win two New Zealand NBL titles and had his singlet number retired by the Sharks.
Current Sharks coach Judd Flavell is an assistant coach with the Breakers, while Southland import Jarrad Weeks has also signed to play for the Breakers this season.