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Rebounding after Newcastle Basketball stadium news

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It’s been a long-time coming for many who’ve played basketball in Newcastle over the years. 

Wednesday’s announcement that Newcastle Basketball would be welcoming a new $30 million 12-court stadium in the city in little more than two years, is a slam dunk for many. 

Newcastle Falcons
Kate Kingham, Newcastle Basketball.

For current NBL1 East Newcastle Falcons player Kate Kingham, the news it would house crowds of up to 2,000 allows for even bigger dreams.

“I believe we can start dreaming of Newcastle having its own NBL team. These are the first steps toward that goal,” she said.

“It’s been a goal of mine since I started my junior playing career here in under-12s.

“When we were training as juniors we used to come out and watch the ABA players on the court and you’d feel like you were a part of something big.

“We’ve got such a growing junior program, this gives them something to look forward to.”

Whether it comes to fruition remains to be seen, but excitement is certainly building. 

Having outgrown the site on Young Street that was built in 1969, the organisation is witnessing a resurgence in popularity, making a new up-to-date venue imperative. 

Newcastle Basketball has junior enrolment numbers that regularly sit in the top five in the nation. 

In 2022, its Sporting Schools programs attracted students from 45 schools across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens, up 60% on the previous year. 

Earlier in 2023, Newcastle Basketball was forced to turn away about 120 players after it hit its capacity of 1,200 enrolments for its summer competition. 

That number is only possible through the use of its companion venues – Macquarie College and Hunter Sports High. 

Newcastle Falcons junior players are excited about the prospect of a new $30 million stadium

Newcastle Basketball general manager Matthew Neason, who took over the role from Neil Goffett in January 2023, says seeing plans on paper for a new, regional level, indoor facility represents an opportunity to stop turning kids away from the popular sport. 

“To paint a picture of where Newcastle Basketball is currently at, last year we had unprecedented growth,” he said.  

“Newcastle is far and away growing quicker than other associations. We’ve got the most Aussie Hoops participants in all of NSW, twice as much as the next association and that’s the age it starts. 

“We’ve got products for kids as young as three to five. What we don’t have is is the capacity to grow our membership. 

“When we opened our enrolments for our winter competition (which begins in April), back in February, within four days we had to close registrations because we didn’t want to promote a product we couldn’t deliver.”  

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who played basketball at the Broadmeadow stadium as a youngster, says a new stadium is long overdue. 

“I trod on these floorboards 40 years ago and the facility hasn’t changed in that time,” she said. 

“I know how difficult it was for the Newcastle Basketball community to think of leaving their spiritual home here in Broadmeadow away from public transport, major roads, but also away from this really important emerging sports precinct, acknowledging that Infrastructure Australia has actually put this Broadmeadow sports and entertainment precinct on their future Infrastructure Australia plans.

“So that’s a significant acknowledgement from the federal government as well.” 

The Lord Mayor, who admits basketball is her favourite sport, hopes the investment will help cement the Hunter Park project, transforming Broadmeadow and its surrounds into a sporting precinct. 

“I couldn’t be more pleased that these facilities are being upgraded in the City of Newcastle wehere the home of basketball belongs,” she added. 

Questions about the new facility will however remain unanswered until after this weekend’s election. 

Although the federal government has offered its support, funding still hinges on the backing of Labor. 

And, while Cr Nelmes was quick to mention state MP Tim Crakanthorp had offered his support for the project and the sport, the new site sits opposite McDonald Jones Stadium and therefore the western side of Turton Road, placing it within Sonia Hornery’s Wallsend electorate. 

But, her office declined to comment until after the election. 

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