A broken Shot Clock that halted play in the important clash between the Illawarra Hawks and Adelaide 36ers at WIN Entertainment Centre on Thursday night has renewed calls for an urgent upgrade of the 20 year old venue.
Hawks general manager Mat Campbell said it was not the first technical issues during a Hawks game.
Many at the game saw the incident as a reflection of the need for a significant investment in rejuvenating the sports and entertainment facility.
The National Basketball League (NBL) expressed disappointment at what occurred and does not want to see a repeat at the next home game on January 18.
The NBL said equipment malfunction was what led to the breakdown of the shot clock during the second quarter. And that after consulting both clubs, it was agreed to play out the remainder of the quarter without the shot clock rather than hold up the game.
It was fixed at half time and the rest of the game was played without incident but the NBL expressed disappointed and is working with the venue and its management to ensure the problem is fixed before the game against New Zealand next Friday.
Campbell said the incident had a negative impact on the team and the fans.
“The equipment has been there for a while and it is not the first time we have had it fail. From a basketball point of view it obviously hurt the team at that stage when we were up. From a fan and entertainment point of view it also hurt the club,” he said.
“A 10 minute break in any kind of game setting is always very difficult from an organisers point of view to try and keep everyone entertained. Not knowing how quickly it is going to be resolved was a big issue. It really deflated the crowd. It took us a while to get back into it. At that stage we were up 10 points and the crowd was right into it. It took a lot of momentum out of it. It is disappointing from a club point of view”.
Campbell agreed it was not a good look for Wollongong on the grand stage of national TV. He said there is great expectation on the professionalism of all the players as well as the game night put on at each home venue. “It was a bit disappointing we weren’t able to put our normal game night together based on a malfunction. The question we have from our end is what went wrong, how do we fix it and how do we guarantee it doesn’t happen again. The fans expect a certain level. And we expect as a paying client that we get that level as well”.
Campbell has played in and attended Hawks games ever since the WEC was built. He said when it was shiny and new everyone was excited about the venue but the attendance of games is affected when people start to view a venue as getting tired and in need of a revamp.
The performance of the team is also a key factor in game attendances.
“Part of the challenge as a club is that 20 years down the track we are playing in the same venue and the product has changed over the years. It could be one of the contributing factors as to why our crowds are down a little bit”.
Response from Venues NSW and WIN Sports and Entertainment Centre
The Illawarra Mercury put questions to Venues NSW about where the review into an upgrade of the venue is at and when the community will find out its findings.
A Venues NSW spokesperson said since August 2018, Venues NSW has been undertaking extensive consultation with key stakeholders in the Illawarra region regarding a potential planning process for the Venues NSW site in Wollongong, which includes WIN Entertainment Centre and WIN Stadium.
“This stakeholder engagement will be used to inform a draft Concept Plan for a future Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct”.
WIN Sports and Entertainment Centre venue manager Marc Swan said during the Hawks v Adelaide NBL game at WIN Entertainment Centre on Thursday night, an unforeseeable fault occurred in the Shot Clock system.
“We always endeavour to deliver a great fan experience and apologise to the fans and players for this disruption,” Mr Swan said.
“We are working with the equipment contractor to diagnose the fault and ensure it is in operational order for future fixtures”.