CONFIRMATION teenage basketball reality star LaMelo Ball will be in Ballarat highlights what the city's newest indoor stadium can offer to the region, Basketball Ballarat's chief says.
Ball created a global sensation when joining National Basketball League club Illawarra Hawks and stadium management for Ballarat Sports and Events Centre are hoping the American will do the same for an exhibition match on September 13.
Announcement of the hit-out between Melbourne United and the Hawks comes days ahead of the first community netball and basketball matches in the BSEC.
Basketball Ballarat chief Peter Eddy said the match was an important test event for the stadium, managing more than double the capacity of the existing Minerdome, ahead of the Australian under-14 club championships in late September.
Mr Eddy said the LaMelo Ball factor was a bonus, particularly for young basketball fans.
"The facilities they (juniors) are going to have and the opportunities to come and see a player like that who is obviously a role model to a lot of those kids is super exciting," Mr Eddy said. "I think any kid in the region - not just Ballarat but Horsham, Hamilton - will be wanting their parents to book tickets to this game."
Hundreds of tickets to the match sold by 4pm on Thursday, two hours after news of the match was official.
Mr Eddy said the primary focus for BSEC was as an accessible, community facility and it was important to have courts full and "humming along" seven days each week.
Major events, he said, helped both inspire and showcase the wider region.
Mr Eddy said it was fitting for Melbourne United to host the first major event in the new stadium, after a long loyalty to the region despite tired, existing venues.
Basketball Ballarat is working with Bendigo Spirit to host a potential in-season Women's National Basketball League game and is in talks with Super Netball club Melbourne Vixens.
City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh, who announced the NBL exhibition game at BSEC on Thursday afternoon, said the match was a great attraction to signal what was possible in the future.
"We know to have a national game of this calibre in Ballarat, right when we're about to open, is the best way to kick off a special new Ballarat Sports and Events Centre," Cr McIntosh said.
...I know this is not just about basketball, it's about the myriad of other events and sports and for the wider region to access a stadium of this calibre closer to home.Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh
Planning works are underway for the $5.2 million stage two build, which feature a community strength and conditioning gym and purpose-built three-on-three courts.
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