It's not dinner at Kneading Ruby, drinks at Humber Bar, or even a round at Holey Moley - the Illawarra Hawks aim to become Wollongong's best night in town.
During NBL season, the WIN Entertainment Centre juggles its regular roster of comedians and musicians with the local basketball team.
A production crew turns the centre into an NBL court fit for Australia's best, and yes, it's unrecognisable.
A night at the Hawks attracts typically a mixed crowd. Hardcore fans who have been following the team since its establishment in 1979. Young kids who attend the various comps and training sessions at the snakepit and are eager to watch their heroes in action and salt of the earth Wollongong folk who like watching live sport.
But there was a different vibe on the first game of the 23/24 season. The fans were there, hoping beyond hope to see a win on the court for the first time in over 12 months. Despite the 8pm start, the families were out in force; maybe thoughts of a long weekend meant a late night at the game would work.
But there was also a younger crowd there. Dressed for a night on the town, eager to have some fun, and if there happened to be a basketball game, that was good too.
It follows in the footsteps of the US basketball league, the NBA, where celebs are paid to sit courtside, bringing their star quality to the game. Beyonce and Kanye West can often be found courtside, and rumour has it the NBL wants to see the same happen in the NBA this season.
On Saturday night, Wollongong's celebs were MP couple Alison Byrnes and Paul Scully. Also courtside was the Hawks billionaire owner Jarred Novelly, Hawks CEO Stu Taggart and his family and Karlie Zec from Tiny Tins with some glam-looking friends.
It's understood the Hawks have been looking at how to reinvigorate their match night entertainment. Rumour has it they took advice from a consultant who worked on the Sydney Olympics. We're unsure if that advice included diversity in the dance team, but this year, three men are included as part of the squad. And new LED signage around the court not only gives advertisers more bang for their buck, it also helps make the WEC look less like we've walked back into the 1990s.
But the revellers were ready to take on the night. Pre-night entertainment had given them a boost, and the rest of the night lay ahead.
Illawarra Hawks next plays at WIN Entertainment Centre on Saturday, October 7 at 5pm. Tickets are available.
Illawarra Mercury Official Illawarra Hawks Autograph Books are available from our office at 77 Market Street, Wollongong. Or at the WEC.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.