Bold stadium plan boost Geelong’s elite sport status

Credit Dave Cairns

The Geelong basketball community is looking to work with other sporting codes on developing new indoor sports stadiums as part of a growth strategy that includes aspiring to host teams in national competitions.

Creating a home for teams in elite competitions such as the WNBL is part of the case for a new indoor sports stadium, Geelong United Basketball chief executive Mark Neeld told a Geelong Chamber of Commerce podcast.

Mark Neeld is the CEO of the Geelong Supercats, pictured at AWA Alliance Bank Stadium. Picture: Glenn Ferguson

Mark Neeld is the CEO of the Geelong Supercats, pictured at AWA Alliance Bank Stadium. Picture: Glenn Ferguson

Emphasising that supporting the needs of its almost 6000-strong basketball community was pivotal to the merged organisation’s future, the former AFL player and coach said Geelong teams being represented in national level competitions was also on the radar.

“We are not hiding from it, we are doing as good a job as we can to get us into the position to attract a WNBL team,” Mr Neeld said.

“We want our own WNBL team, an NBL team.”

He said Geelong United was keen to work with other indoor sports that played at an elite level.

“We’d love to see if we can attract some teams down here, and in fact for Geelong to have their own,” Mr Neeld said.

“That’s part of the stadium pitch.”

Mr Neeld said basketball needed to coexist with other sports to develop facilities and it was already working with Basketball Victoria, Netball Victoria and the City of Greater Geelong on how to provide new facilities for indoor sports.

“There are some nights of the week where we have waiting lists for teams, we just can’t get our hands on enough basketball courts,” he said.

He said the two-year-old merger of the Geelong and Corio Bay basketball associations to form Geelong United Basketball had worked to financially stabilise the associations, which had been struggling “to keep the stadiums open”.

There are 800 teams in Geelong’s community and social competitions and the association was turning over about $4m a year and was returning money into the sport by investing in facilities, referees and coaching.

In the Geelong Chamber of Commerce People with Purpose podcast, Mr Neeld talked to chamber chief Ben Flynn about his journey through football and how he approached leadership.

Mr Neeld played 74 AFL games for Geelong and Richmond, was assistant coach at Collingwood in its 2010 premiership year and had a short senior coaching stint at Melbourne.