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Time for a reappraisal and a unified Hunter effort after Hillsborough basketball knockback

DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH: Newcastle Basketball's membership has doubled inside a decade. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

THE better part of four years have elapsed since Newcastle Basketball surprised many with a plan to move from its long-term home at Broadmeadow to a new centre at Hillsborough in Lake Macquarie.

That idea was killed this week in the Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel, and a war of words has erupted over who is to blame, and what is to happen next.

Few seem surprised by the proposal's rejection. Residents' objections and opposition from Transport NSW were known long ago.

If so, why did Newcastle Basketball persist with this plan for so long, if the site was as unsuitable as the panel now confirms?

Opinions on that vary, but Newcastle Basketball opted to move out of Broadmeadow back in 2018 after it felt the space allocated to it in a new multi-sports precinct was too small.

Hillsborough was a second choice after Crown land it originally sought at Glendale fell through.

Now it appears a new and larger site at Glendale, near Downer EDI, has become available, and so the Hillsborough rejection is not the blow it might have been.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes wants two stadiums - one in Lake Macquarie and another in Newcastle.

This sounds attractive but the existing stadium is on land the state wants to sell for housing to pay for the sporting precinct; so unless Newcastle council has land and funding to contribute, a stay at Broadmeadow does not look likely from Newcastle Basketball's perspective.

Newcastle Basketball says its membership has gone from 2000 nine years ago to 4800, with 5000 well within reach.

Its six Broadmeadow courts are used every day, with four more courts used at two schools.

The association covers Port Stephens (although not Maitland or Cessnock) but says the population centre - and far greater numbers of young people - are in Lake Macquarie, favouring Glendale over Newcastle.

The NSW government signed to put $25 million into this project and the Hunter cannot afford to lose it.

Look how long it took to regain lost art gallery funding.

Our sports facilities, by and large, have not kept pace with progress.

This is not about professional basketball, although it would help the region re-secure a top-flight team.

It's about everyday grassroots sport.

The negative impacts accumulate as time flies by.

MORE OF THIS: Newcastle Falcons import Jashaun Smith at Broadmeadow last month. A new stadium would surely help the city's top-flight basketball representation as well as the thousands of everyday players who stride the court for enjoyment. Picture: Jonahan Carroll

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