GOING TROPPO: Women's basketball to head north
IN a slam dunk for North Queensland, the WNBL season is heading to the tropics.
Basketball Australia along with support from the Queensland Government and local councils will today reveal the best female basketballers in the country will all be headed north next month.
The entire WNBL season, with 60 games to be played across November and December, will be hosted between Townsville, Cairns and Mackay.
Townsville will host 32 of the games between two venues in the Townsville Stadium and Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.
The city will also host a four-game finals series which will include two semi-finals, a qualifying final and a grand final.
The revised season model will see all eight WNBL teams relocate to North Queensland to contest the 2020 season, where each side will contest 14 games as part of the regular season.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is in Townsville for the announcement and said the season would play into her strategy to rebuild the state's economy.
"The tourism and events sectors throughout our state have done it tough this year," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"Major sporting events pump millions of dollars into local businesses. Securing the WNBL is a great win for the whole of North Queensland and a dream come true for basketball fans in the region."
Tourism Minister Kate Jones referenced Townsville's successful hosting of the Horn-Tszyu boxing bout as she said Queensland had proven how important events can be to the economic recovery of the state.
"Great local events like the recent Horn fight in Townsville, which was also secured by the government, generate millions of dollars for local businesses that have struggled throughout this pandemic," she said.
The announcement will come as a major boost for the Townsville Fire who are aiming to climb off the bottom of the WNBL ladder this season.
The Fire have been one of the more dominant forces in recent history, having won three titles in the past six WNBL seasons. The club also celebrates its 20th year in the league in 2020.
Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter AM said everyone connected with the league was excited to have the backing of the Queensland Government.
"The support from the Queensland Government and City of Townsville ensures we are able to deliver the season in 2020, providing a stage for Australia's best established and emerging talent to contest the 41st edition of Australia's longest-running elite women's sporting competition, the Chemist Warehouse WNBL," she said.
"Basketball Australia has been working in partnership with the eight club owners via their participation and collaboration on the WNBL Commission since the beginning of the pandemic.
"We all agreed it was critical to deliver the season and ensure the league puts a much-needed smile on the face of our fans and members, maintains the growth of women's basketball throughout Australia, and continues to inspire future generations of players, coaches and officials."
Athletes, coaches and officials from areas identified as "hot spots'' will arrive in Brisbane this month and undertake a 14-day quarantine before relocating to North Queensland. During the quarantine period, teams and referees will have access to training facilities in Brisbane's Nissan Arena.
The 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season fixture, broadcast details and ticketing information will be announced later this month.
Originally published as It's a WNBL extravaganza for North Queensland