THE region won't feature in the team name, but the newly dubbed Hawks may play all 14 home games in the Illawarra for the first time in three seasons following the closure of AIS Arena this week.
The Hawks have taken a games to Canberra in their past two campaigns, with the tentative bonds to the capital making it a logical candidate for more games under a plan to expand the foundation club's regional footprint.
That's now unlikely with Sport Australia this week cancelling all existing bookings for the venue and taking no others for 2021 or beyond, putting Canberra off the table for the Hawks in the immediate term.
Hawks owner Dorry Kordahi believes Canberra will become viable option again the future, but insists consolidating the club's Wollongong home was always going to be the top priority in the first season under new management.
"In all honesty no, it hasn't thrown a spanner in the works for us at all," Kordahi said of the AIS closure.
"Yes the Hawks have gone to Canberra the last couple of years, and found it quite promising from that perspective, but we haven't even had a chat with the [ACT] government regarding this year, let alone looking at having games there.
"I'm sure there's other underlying issues from a government perspective with what's happening with the AIS that will sort itself out. I'm sure they will get funding and re-open eventually, but it hasn't thrown a spanner for us because it wasn't really a part of our plan, other than continuing to play one to two games there.
"I've said all along, our main focus has always been the Illawarra region, and that's the DNA of the Hawks. There's no way we were thinking of expanding our footprint for season one.
"We're starting from scratch, we don't even have computers, phone numbers, email accounts because administrators have everything. It'd be premature to even think that we could start exploring expanding our footprint across more of regional NSW within the first year."
Newcastle, another potential home away from home, will also be without a stadium for the next two years leaving few options in regional NSW - the area the NBL was looking to target in rebranding the franchise.
The economic impacts of the COVID-19 being felt all around regional NSW will limit immediate expansion options meaning the Hawks could, in all likelihood, host all 14 games in Wollongong this season.
Beyond that, there are several factors at play, including Thursday's confirmation that a Tasmanian franchise will enter the NBL for the 2021-22 season.
It will see the overall number of NBL games swell in a 10-team competition, meaning the club could meet its expansion goals while still playing up to 14 games at the WEC.
"There's a lot of scenarios that come into play here. Hobart will be in next year so there are going to be more games," Kordahi said.
"We'll be up to 32 games, we could have 16 home games, is that too many for Wollongong? If it's not and were getting 4000-plus a game, great, it's not an issue, but no club can keep on losing money year in, year out.
"Any team that keeps on losing money, it puts you in a difficult position of 'what do we need to do now'. That's been the issue with the Hawks over the last 10 years.
"It's gone through so many administration and different ownerships, different models just trying to sustain being in the league. That's why from a league perspective they've said 'look, you need to look at expanding your footprint where you can have a sustainable model'
"Is 14 games the viable model for Wollongong and then, when Hobart comes in, two games on the road? Is it 10 games in Wollongong and six games on the road?
"If it's six games on the road, you've got to build another base where you can build that momentum and that fanbase consistency. You can't be running all over playing a game here and a game there because you're not doing anything other than detracting from what you're trying to achieve.
"That's something we're going to need to work out."
That future remains up in the air but, Kordahi said the Wollongong faithful could well take those decisions out of the ownership's hands.
"This is a good year where all Hawks fans, sponsors and corporates to really show it's a viable option to have 14 games in Wollongong," he said.
"I think people's concern has been that we're going to pick up and take the whole team away, that's never been the case or been on the cards. If the fans can jump on board and improve our attendance, I think it was a 3400 average last year, it becomes more viable to focus more within the region
"We need everyone to get out there and say 'hey, if you want this team, you need to get out there and support it'. We're the only team that plays in summer in that region, there's no other professional code. Realistically, we should be selling out that stadium.
"In Sydney there's something like 15 professional teams. With one, that stadium should be selling out and that's our goal - sell it out and make it sustainable so we can have every game there."
The venue itself has been at the heart of the clubs recent woes, with price of tickets a constant gripe of fans and making it difficult to reach capacity 14 times a season.
The club has had little wriggle room in that area given the exorbitant hire costs Venues NSW continues to charge the franchise, despite being its primary tenant for two decades and the dilapidated state of the arena.
The latter fact was brought into sharp focus last season when a game against the New Zealand Breakers was abandoned when rain leaked through the roof onto the floor.
An unfriendly draw - that saw the club play its home-opener on NRL grand final day and host a glut of Monday night games - also saw the club struggle to capitalise on the arrival of LaMelo Ball last season.
Kordahi has met with relevant parties to address both issues and will be part of a push to see the WEC upgraded for the first time in its existence.
"I know last year the draw didn't work out to well with too many Monday night games and that's something we're working closely with the NBL, to try and give us a better draw," Kordahi said.
"Our aim is to improve our game night experience as well so we're in talks with Venues NSW to invest a bit more in the stadium and give our fans a better experience.
"It's never been upgraded and that's disappointing. It's had the same seats for 22 years, they haven't even upgraded the basic essentials. I met with [Wollongong MP] Paul Scully when I was up in Wollongong last week and a few others as well.
"I had a meeting with Venues NSW senior management and they see the urgency now. They realise that if they want us to be an anchor tenant then they need to invest in it.
"It's definitely an intention now, enough noise is being made, and they're taking notice."
The ownership group took a major step in winning over fans in landing the signature of mastercoach Brian Goorjian, as The Mercury exclusively revealed last week.
A spike in COVID cases in Melbourne has put back his expected arrival in Wollongong but, the NBL has mercifully pushed back the opening of free agency to July 15 ahead of a December tip-off.
Goorjian told The Mercury re-signing the likes of Emmett Naar, Sunday Dech, Angus Glover and Sam Froling - who were rendered free agents as a result of administration - is a top priority.
Kordahi said that ball is definitely rolling.
"We want to try and keep our core if we can," he said.
"Unfortunately no one is signed at the moment because of the fallout from the administration. We've sent out contracts to a few of them and we're hoping they'll take it and jump back on board
"Bringing on board Brian Goorjian, the best coach in the history of the league, we're hoping they can see the upside there in how he can develop them and help them grow.
"Offers are out there now so it'a whether they test free agency. There's nothing we can do from that perspective because all our players are off-contract technically speaking.
"It's challenging, it's not like we've got our core there and are looking for a couple, we're starting from scratch and having to sign every single player again.
"They might want to test free agency but from our end we want to show our commitment that, we're here and we want them. Goorj will give them a lot of value and we're hoping to sign up a few ASAP."