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Sport Swansea owner wins NBL expansion team, but Melbourne could miss out

01:40  13 july  2018
01:40  13 july  2018 Source:   theage.com.au

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Swansea City co- owner Romie Chaudhari has won the newest NBL expansion licence but Melbourne could miss out due to concerns on stadium If both Melbourne United and Chaudhari’s team both needed the venue, which is clearly a favourite with Victorian basketball fans, then the NBL

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Melbourne United in action at Hisense Arena.© AAP Melbourne United in action at Hisense Arena.

Melbourne could miss out on a second NBL franchise due to concerns about stadium availability.

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The NBL has sold its next expansion franchise to Swansea City co-owner Romie Chaudhari in what is understood to be a multimillion-dollar deal with the team to take the court for the 2019-2020 season.

With Melbourne United winning the NBL championship this past season and drawing sellout crowds to Hisense Arena, NBL owner Larry Kestelman wants a second – and possibly third – team in Victoria.

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"This is an exciting moment for the NBL as we announce a second team in Melbourne ," NBL chief The NBL announced in July that Romie Chaudhari, co- owner of English Championship soccer team Swansea City Four Japanese players kicked out of Asian Games team after 'night out with women'.

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But the league and Chaudhari have not locked in a location for the new franchise despite the clear attraction of Melbourne because the NBL is concerned it may not be able to secure weekly access to Hisense and also find a “world class” training facility for the team.

If both Melbourne United and Chaudhari’s team both needed the venue, which is clearly a favourite with Victorian basketball fans, then the NBL would need weekly access for home games.

It’s understood the league will talk with the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust and the State Government as Hisense Arena is regularly in hot demand for concerts and other sporting events. It is also booked during the Australian Open tennis.

The NBL is concerned it will not be able to secure the access it needs to make sure both clubs would gain the access they need to draw big crowds.

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The State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South would be a possible training option but would drag the team far from the city centre and reduce its visibility in the congested sporting market.

Swansea City's logo.© Supplied Swansea City's logo. Melbourne United has experienced similar difficulties due to being based at Sandringham for the past few years. While the club believed to be close to making a move to the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, it’s unclear if that venue could comfortably house two professional basketball teams or whether two clubs would find it acceptable to co-exist there.

Securing Chaudhari to lead the new franchise is a vote of confidence in the eight-team NBL as he holds stakes in Swansea City, the new Overwatch eSports franchise in Los Angeles and a number of other business and philanthropic ventures as managing director of Chiron Investments.

He is also a small stakeholder in the consortium which purchased New Zealand NBL club the Breakers earlier this year, but former NBA players Matt Walsh and Shawn Marion are believed to lead that group and it is not clear whether Chaudhari will maintain that stake once he has his own franchise up and running.

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An expansion team is a new team in a sports league , usually from a city that has not hosted a team in that league before, formed with the intention of satisfying the demand for a local team from a population in a new area.

Kestelman said stadium and facility access would decide where the NBL will base its next season with groups in Sydney, Perth and Tasmania all pushing for a new team.

“We are delighted to welcome Romie to the NBL,” Kestelman said.

"His investment continues the recent trend of influential business people returning to the sport of basketball in Australia and, in particular, to the NBL.

“It gives me great confidence in the continuing growth of the NBL that successful, business-minded people are seeing the same potential that keeps me so committed to this sport.

“Participation, attendance and interest in the sport is booming as was shown yet again with the recent announcement that five NBL teams will play seven games in the forthcoming NBA season.

“A big part of the decision making process about where we locate the new team will be ensuring it has access to world class training and facilities that are up to NBL standards.”

Chaudhari praised the NBL as enjoying “massive growth” which led to him wanting his own team.

“Being a lifetime fan and player, I have a passion for basketball and my positive experiences with team ownership in cities where a particular sport is the lifeblood of the local community led me to this opportunity with the NBL,” Chaudhari said.

“Wherever we end up locating this team, I want it to unify and represent the community and help build a world class team fans can be proud of.

“The NBL is coming off a record season in attendance, broadcast audiences and corporate support and there couldn’t be a better time to be involved in Australian basketball.”

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