The Canberra Capitals will play home games at Belconnen in the New Year. Photo: Rohan ThomsonThe Canberra Capitals have shelved their move to the National Convention Centre until next WNBL season, but believe being forced to play home games at Belconnen Basketball Centre in the New Year could prove a blessing in disguise.
Delays in the manufacturing of the removable court the Capitals will play on at the Convention Centre mean it won’t arrive in Canberra until February.
University of Canberra Union boss Joe Roff described the situation as “not ideal”, but said it gave them a chance to make the move to their new home next season an event.
The Capitals haven’t played at Belconnen for many years. The venue holds a maximum of 500 spectators at best.
Canberra, winless after 15 games, have played two games at Tuggeranong Basketball Stadium this season, but it will be out of action for the early part of 2016 due to electrical damage caused by a storm.
Keen to get more events into the city, the ACT government paid for the court, which will be erected and dismantled for every game.
“The plan is still to move to the National Convention Centre, however it won’t happen this season,” Roff said. “With the AIS down we’re engaging with the community courts at Belconnen and Tuggeranong.
“It hasn’t been ideal but there’s not much we can do, we’re putting things in place to make sure we launch at the Convention Centre with a bang.”
Belconnen’s courts are also being resurfaced during the Christmas break, but Basketball ACT has been given a guarantee they will be ready for the Capitals’ January 9 clash with Perth.
They may play more matches at Belconnen should Tuggeranong, which can accommodate about 1200 fans, remain unavailable.
The Capitals are confident the move to the city will translate into bigger crowds, and are working to ensure they meet several FIBA safety regulations.
“The court will be here by February, but rather than rush for the last home game, we’ll wait until next season because it’s an exciting prospect having a city-based sport,” Roff said.
“We made a decision in conjunction with the government to make sure the court’s right and we can test it out instead of launching straight into a WNBL game.
“It’s a removable, international standard court essentially, which is great for Canberra to have.”
Basketball ACT’s executive manager of group operations Dan Jackson insisted the Belconnen court will be up to standard for a national competition.
“It’s good timing because our floor will be brand new and we’ve also replaced our lighting, thanks to a grant from the ACT government,” he said.
“The biggest game we’ve had at Belconnen recently was the under-19 boys final where we probably had in excess of 500 in there.
“It was certainly packed, but speaking to the Caps they’re happy to bring in additional seating if they need to. While it’s much smaller than they’re used to, I think the atmosphere will be much better.”
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