Ballarat overlooked in stadium play to rivals Geelong

Former Rush player Liv Thompson in action for Melbourne Boomers in an exhibition game at the Minerdome on Saturday night. Picture: Dylan Burns

Former Rush player Liv Thompson in action for Melbourne Boomers in an exhibition game at the Minerdome on Saturday night. Picture: Dylan Burns

A PROLONGED wait on potential federal funding for an indoor stadium means Ballarat is missing opportunities – plays that neighbouring cities are happy to pick up.

Playing good host to Women’s National Basketball League club Melbourne Boomers last week for a second annual community camp has proven not quite enough to secure in-season action. The Boomers played an exhibition match against Bendigo Spirit at the Minerdome on Saturday night.

But the Boomers will offer regional in-season exposure to Geelong in a clash against Adelaide Lightning early next year.

Basketball Ballarat chief executive Peter Eddy said the delay in confirming the third round of National Stronger Regions Fund grants was taking its toll.

The association, in partnership with City of Ballarat, is seeking $10 million to transform the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre project into a boutique indoor stadium – that could attract WNBL matches.

Melbourne Boomers general manager Justin Nelson made clear during the Ballarat visit the Boomers were prepared to take WNBL matches to regional Victoria, including Ballarat, should the right facilities be available.

Basketball Ballarat is unable to tender for national level championships after governing body Basketball Australia deemed this city’s venues no longer up to standard for national events. Since hosting basketball in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Ballarat has hosted seven national level championships.

“By comparison, Bendigo and Geelong already have facilities that are bigger, newer and better than what we have in Ballarat,” Mr Eddy said.

 “To make things even more challenging both cities are currently planning even larger community and sports event venues that will make our current facilities totally inadequate by comparison.”

The $14 million BSEC stage one development will offer training facilities for Sovereigns state league netball and elite Miners and Rush basketball programs but will still lack the space and facilities for major event standards.