14 July 2023

With player numbers booming, Basketball ACT's need for Belconnen precinct a slam dunk

| Tim Gavel
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Belconnen Basketball Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Belconnen Basketball Stadium is struggling to cope with demand. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

The end use of a block of land adjacent to the Belconnen Basketball Stadium, along with the Civic Olympic Pool site, has been speculated upon for more than a decade.

Basketball ACT has owned the land next door to the Belconnen Stadium for 10 years and CEO Nicole Bowles estimates her organisation has paid around $500,000 in rates while it has remained dormant. At one stage the association considered selling the block rather than continuing to pay rates.

READ ALSO Nicole Bowles leaps to top spot at Basketball ACT

But the value of the land is seen in far more than dollar terms as the sport battles to find facilities in the wake of an unprecedented surge in player numbers.

“More than 7000 players have registered for our winter competitions this year,” Ms Bowles said. “There are also increased numbers in the schools and holiday programs.”

Nicole Bowles. Photo: Basketball ACT.

Nicole Bowles says there has been a surge in registrations. Photo: Basketball ACT.

The growth is significant with 4698 registered players in the winter competition in 2020.

The increase in people wanting to play basketball has placed considerable strain on existing facilities, resulting in the hiring of school gymnasiums to ensure competitions can proceed.

For a number of years Basketball ACT has been agitating for government support to build new indoor courts with the winter season the most popular in terms of demand.

READ ALSO ‘Shoot hoops at midnight’: Carrie Graf unveils new public sport space

At the top of the sites identified for new courts is the vacant block adjacent to the existing stadium.

Basketball ACT is looking to build three indoor courts on the site but requires an injection of ACT Government funding – and the ACT Budget provided optimism.

“The government has made a commitment to improve our facilities which is great and we are currently in negotiations on what that support might look like,” Ms Bowles said.

Land next door to the Belconnen Basketball Stadium available for court development. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Part of the land next door to the Belconnen Basketball Basketball Stadium suitable for the building of more courts. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

A figure of $30 million has been floated but that looks to be optimistic.

While the three new courts will go some way to alleviating the facilities problem, it is just the start.

“It is the tip of the iceberg,” Ms Bowles said. “Belconnen is the starting point, Woden and Gungahlin need basketball facilities as well.”

She said timelines on progressing the Belconnen facility were unknown.

In the meantime participation is at a record level with indications of further growth next year – and the last thing any sports association wants to do is turn away potential players.

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