Basketball Australia today announced that through an innovative partnership with the Queensland Government, the 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season will be contested entirely in a North Queensland hub later this year.
The Queensland Government’s support along with that of the Cairns Regional Council, Mackay Regional Council and the City of Townsville, will see Cairns, Mackay and Townsville host a revised season structure from November 12, where each team will contest 14 games as part of a 56-game regular season fixture, plus a four game final series (2 x semi-finals, preliminary final and grand final).
The revised season model will see all eight WNBL teams relocate to North Queensland to contest the 2020 season, which will be played over a condensed 6-week format with the Grand Final scheduled for Sunday 20 December.
On making the announcement, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, “Major events are an important part of my Government’s strategy to continue rebuilding and growing our economy and to support local jobs”.
“The tourism and events sectors throughout our state have done it tough this year.
“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 said Queensland has proven how important events can be to the economic recovery of our 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,” the Minister said.
“Through our major boost to events funding, we’re working hard to secure more events like this to support tourism businesses to rebuild and recover faster.”
This announcement means the WNBL season will tip-off as originally planned, which signals the commencement of an exciting 3-years for Australian women’s basketball that includes the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and in 2022, Australia hosting the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter AM said that everyone connected with the league was excited and grateful to have the backing of the Queensland Government.
“The support from the Queensland Government 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.
“On behalf of Basketball Australia, the WNBL clubs, players, coaches, officials, members and fans, I would like to thank Premier Palaszczuk and Minister Kate Jones for their visionary support of women’s basketball in Australia.
“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. All of this as basketball finds itself on the doorstep of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics where the Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals are eyeing glory again and, just twelve months later, the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup will be hosted by Sydney,” said Rechter.
Mackay Basketball Stadium will hold eight games, Cairns Pop-Up Arena will showcase 20 games, with a combined 32 games to be played at Townville Stadium and Townsville Entertainment Centre, including the entire final series.
Athletes, coaches, officials and other required personnel associated with the league from areas identified as ‘hotspots’ will this month arrive in Brisbane and undertake the 14-day quarantine period before relocating to North Queensland. During the quarantine period, teams and referees will have controlled access to training facilities at Nissan Arena in Brisbane.
Basketball Australia Head of Women in Basketball Lauren Jackson AO paid tribute to league stakeholders, including Club General Managers for their hands-on involvement in working groups over recent months, as all parties sought solutions to deliver the 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season against the challenges presented by COVID-19.
“The passion and commitment of all involved in the league and their unwavering love of Australian basketball are the core reasons why players, coaches, officials and club staff will be making significant sacrifices to ensure the 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season is contested.
“The WNBL is one of the world’s best elite basketball leagues and we have such depth in talent within Australian women’s basketball. The 2020 season plays a pivotal role in preparing the Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals for two important global tournaments and I want to thank all parties for the selfless and big picture approach in wanting to ensure the season went ahead,” concluded Jackson.
The 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season fixture, broadcast details and ticketing information will be announced later this month.