NBL advances push into Tasmania

Tasmania has long pined for its own AFL team but a return to the National Basketball League could be a closer reality.

The NBL hopes to decide by the end of the year whether to give the green light to a team based in the island state.

CEO Larry Kestelman visited Hobart on Tuesday to announce Tasmania would host the NBL pre-season competition from September 19-22.

The league has identified the state as an expansion target for their 10th team and is in exclusive talks with council to buy the Derwent Entertainment Centre (DEC) just outside Hobart, where a team would play matches, and nearby land at Wilkinsons Point.

Kestelman said the centre needs refurbishment to meet NBL standards but discussions were progressing well.

"I'm hoping by the end of the year to announce whether the team is a reality or not," he said.

Kestelman has targeted 2020/21 or the following season for the entry of a Tasmanian team into the league.

The NBL wants some of the DEC redevelopment funding to come from the state government, who have forked out $300,000 to host the pre-season tournament.

"We feel this contribution will help our push for a team of our own." Minister for Sport Jeremy Rockliff said.

"This government is very supportive of Tasmania securing a licence to participate in the NBL."

Mr Rockliff said the state government would work collaboratively to make a team happen but didn't have a figure for the DEC refurbishment bill.

Kestelman is using his southern visit to gauge corporate support.

"We want to see basketball as the number one sport in Tasmania. There'll be no lack of trying to bring a team here," he said.

The NBL has created a website where people can register their support for a side and is urging the public to vote with their feet at the nine-team pre-season competition where high-profile signings RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball could hit the court for the first time.

"We would certainly be disappointed if the crowd didn't turn out. It would send us a signal that maybe we're not on the mark," Kestelman said.

"But I would doubt that. We can feel the buzz, we can feel that Tasmania wants it."

Tasmania had a basketball team in the national competition, the Tassie Hobart Devils, from 1983-96.