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The circus is in town

EVER since the Adelaide 36ers made their grand announcement of moving house to Adelaide Entertainment Centre earlier this week, it’s curious how many questions remain unanswered. Then again, most were never asked.

Sadly, that is often the way of the world these days, with some arms of the media content to rewrite press releases and therefore churn out club-driven PR, or attend press conferences and avoid making waves.

Easier to ride along on the bunkum bus than make any dinkum din.

The 36ers’ announcement they were moving away from their ancestral home at Titanium Security Arena for the greater capacity/easily accessible AEC, as of NBL season 2019-20 onward, was greeted with much fanfare, back-slapping and knowing nods of approval.

It is time for “evolution” apparently and, at a time the Sixers only are pulling 6,100 regulars to their 7,800-capacity (somewhat greater when utilising the concourse and Scout Deck restaurant) moving to the 9,915 Entertainment Centre made “commercial sense”.

That is, if it is a 9,915-capacity venue in a basketball-game configuration. The figure of 9,300 also has been trotted out, while exuberant reports claim the 36ers now will join the likes of Perth, Sydney and Melbourne with the ability to have 10,000-strong home crowds. (Guess those extra bodies will be shoe-horned in somewhere. But let’s not concern ourselves with technicalities.)

Let’s stick with 9,915 for the moment and agree with the 36ers and NBL that having easy access to the AEC via bus, tram and train, makes it a far better located venue for the general public.

The location and greater capacity make this an exciting prospect, no question.

The 36ers say they want more Friday night and Saturday night games too next season in their new home. Sixers CEO Ben Kavenagh also said the club’s history would be honoured with the retired singlet numbers to still be on display and the playing surface to still be “Brett Maher Court”.

OK then. Sounds like progress. But then, here are some questions which maybe should have or could have been asked, just for clarity on this great day.

“Ticket prices went up last season following the 36ers reaching the 2017-18 NBL grand final. Will they go up again for Season 1 at the AEC, with its advantages of greater sight lines, cushioned seats and a revamped home game night experience?”

“Adelaide Basketball, the 36ers ownership, had two years to run on its venue agreement at Titanium Security Arena. What was the compensation payout to TSA for it releasing Adelaide Basketball from that contract and will that be passed on to members?”

“The 36ers’ management and administration will remain housed at TSA and the team will continue to have access to the venue as its training facility. But now that Adelaide Lightning will be TSA’s primary tenant, it also will have priority for training times. The Lightning plan to train from 10am-1pm, traditionally the 36ers’ slot. So will Joey Wright’s team be expected to train earlier and conclude at 10am, train in the afternoon, or train at alternate venues such as Wayville Sports Centre or St Clair Recreation Centre? If it is either of the latter options, has Adelaide Basketball factored in those new training costs?”

“Did 36ers management allow for the fact that one of the team’s unsung but key recruiting tools for 27 years has been the fact it is one of the only teams in the NBL which could train daily at the same venue in which it played?”

“Where will the 36ers be getting the portable floor for its home games at AEC? What will it cost to lay that floor for each home game, then remove it post-match and where will the 36ers store it and the three baskets and uprights it will need to purchase (two for each game, one in case of in-game breakages)?”

“Did the AEC come to the party to minimise costs and/or provide staff to set up the venue for NBL games? If not, do those costs get passed on to fans?”

“Will the AEC boast a similar state-of-the-art $500,000 score cube as per TSA and also LED lighting for high-definition television?”

“Did the 36ers realise the TSA was purpose-built for the NBL club and, as such, has wood flooring which accentuates stomping, noise and atmosphere? Did the 36ers realise the AEC floors are cement?”

“Was Ben Kavenagh serious when he said the AEC court would be ‘Brett Maher Court’? Given the club icon played his entire NBL career at TSA (and its previous incarnations as the Clipsal Powerhouse and Distinctive Homes Dome), does the club believe that laying Brett Maher’s signature down on any portable court surface truly converts that into ‘Brett Maher Court’?”

“Where will the bust of club champion Mark Davis sit at the AEC?”

“These sudden concerns about public access to the venue, made so much easier at AEC through the proliferation of nearby public transport, is the 36ers’ current management aware the TSA had sell-out crowds from 1992-96, then again from 1998-2003, then again for Grand Final matches last season and in 2015, seven sell-outs when Jerome Randle returned to play for the Sixers and also for Brett Maher’s final game on Brett Maher Court, so apparently large numbers of people could find and access the venue?”

“What will the carparking guarantees be and if there is another event on at the AEC, do 36ers fans have any priority?”

"Is there any protection for Adelaide Basketball if an artist appearing at AEC adds extra shows - someone such as Pink, for example? In the event of such a potential fixture clash, does the artist or the 36ers get bumped?"

“Can the 36ers and NBL guarantee no fixturing clashes with Adelaide United at nearby Hindmarsh Stadium, which clearly heavily would impact parking and ease of AEC accessibility?”

“Have the 36ers any contingency plan in place for the SA Brewery’s annual Christmas lights program across the road from the AEC and how that again may impact carparking?”

“Would it not have made better commercial sense to have completed the contract at TSA while the State Government advanced its bid to stage the Commonwealth Games, then moved the organisation into what would be a new stadium facility at Memorial Drive?”

“Does the new AEC agreement allow for such a contingency?”

Anyway, these are just a few questions maybe someone could have asked.

I have no doubt crowds will flock to the 36ers’ first few games next season, to check out the new atmosphere and surrounds. I truly hope the move is a winner.

But in the paraphrased words of NBL and Basketball Australia Hall of Famer and legend Andrew Vlahov: “No-one goes to the circus to see the tent.”

Mar 20

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