From understandable and bittersweet, to a "real blow" to fans' loyalty, or just plain "bulls--t", the region's political leaders had varied views on hearing the news that the Hawks would drop the word Illawarra from their name.
But whether they were sympathetic or angry, almost all agreed the decision to delete the region from the team's identity should be reversed.
Whitlam MP Stephen Jones was most outspoken, saying the decision was simply "complete bulls--t".
"I think this is a backdoor attempt to get another Sydney team at the expense of the Illawarra," he said, echoing fans' concerns that the name drop would eventually lead to the team moving to western Sydney.
"What makes this more outrageous, is that there were local businessmen willing to put their money into rebuilding the club..."
"The Illawarra has supported the Hawks through thick and thin, and now they think they can brush all that aside and steal the club, its colours and its name and move it to Sydney.
"Make no mistake, that is the plan - we've seen this before and we know what the agenda is here. All sorts of promises will be made in the first year and by the third year it will have all disappeared."
He called on Illawarra fans to "stand up and say we are not going to be pushed aside".
Wollongong MP Paul Scully agreed, saying the Illawarra had been loyal to the Hawks for many years.
"This has all the hallmarks of a repeat of what happened with the Dragons, where we lost home games which is a real blow to Wollongong," he said.
"I'm disappointed that the NBL has decided that a condition of the new ownership is that they drop the Illawarra name, and that means we'll have to seriously look at trying to attract other teams to play at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre."
He also said the decision could have ramifications for the much-needed upgrade of the run-down WEC as well as on grassroots sport.
"I worry that this might be one of those things that the Berejiklian government might like to point to to justify its continued go-slow on upgrading the WEC," he said.
"Also, part of having professional teams here is the outreach activities, at schools and community groups which is inspirational for young kids.
"It's tough when your team is losing, but it's even tougher when your teams decides that it doesn't want to be based in your town."
Deputy Mayor (and long-time Hawks fan) Tania Brown was more understanding, but said she would like to think fans could help to reinstate the Illawarra name.
"It's been bittersweet, because at least now we know we have a team in the competition," she said.
"But it is disappointing, because what makes the Illawarra Hawks is our regional identity.
"Us and Cairns are the only two regional teams left, so it's very disappointing to lose that name."
Cr Brown said the onus was now on fans to show the new ownership group why the Illawarra was such an important part of the Hawks identity.
"We say we're the only foundation club left, so let's show them how we can get behind this team and that the Illawarra needs to be maintained," she said.
She said she could understand the push to broaden the footprint of the team, given the club was unable to sell out the WEC even with the star power of LaMelo Ball last season.
"I can appreciate that perspective, and in some respects I understand including Canberra but I would certainly not support Newcastle wanting to buy into our Illawarra Hawks - I would say go and revive the Hunter Pirates," she said.
"We might travel to Canberra for a game, but not to Newcastle - that's too far.
"I really hope this doesn't mean the Hawks lose fans in the Illawarra, because the only way we have a voice at this table is by being season ticket holder, by being at the games. We need to show we are worthy of being a regional team based here."
Cr Brown also said it was critical that the WEC be upgraded to make sure it meets safety standards and can comfortably seat spectators.
"I can't begrudge the NBL for looking for a venue that's waterproof," she said.
"Having a game cancelled in the third quarter because of a leaking roof was a national embarrassment last season.
"And if you were the new owners, you don't want to have it hanging over your head that a game might be cancelled because of rain.
"This is a state owned asset, and it needs to be maintained so that they can attract a world class basketball team to stay there."
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery was the most sympathetic of local politicians, saying he thought the dramatic move was a "natural progression".
"The survival of the Hawks is important, and the way marketing is going, it seems professional sport needs to have a larger support base to survive," he said.
"I think it's just a natural progression from a local team into something that is going to be supported nationally.
"Deep pockets is the theme of professional sport, and I suppose the local support base wasn't enough to sustain the Illawarra Hawks. So this is an attempt to retain something that will resemble the Hawks.
"We've seen this in all codes, in all sports."
"I welcome the commitment from the new owners to work with Venues NSW on getting the WEC upgraded, which would be an immediate stimulus spend for our city that the state government could make now."
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