Australia's premier basketball competition and arguably its most powerful club are coming to Bendigo.
National Basketball League giant Melbourne United will play its first three home games of the upcoming season at Bendigo Stadium, starting with the blockbuster clash with crosstown rival South East Melbourne Phoenix on January 10.
Five days later United hosts the New Zealand Breakers on January 15 before returning on February 7 to play the Brisbane Bullets.
"This is big news for basketball fans in regional Victoria, and equally as important for local businesses,'' Bendigo Stadium Limited chief executive Nathan O'Neill said.
"Three NBL regular season games in 29 days is not a normal occurrence for a Victorian regional city, so we are very thankful for the opportunity Melbourne United and City of Greater Bendigo have provided us.
"We have worked with Melbourne United before and they are remarkable to work with. Their professionalism shines through every time, and they continue to deliver the best fan experience in the country. The family entertainment is first class and we encourage everyone to get your hands on tickets once released on December 28."
Melbourne United chief executive Vince Crivelli said the club was excited by the opportunity to take NBL games to Bendigo.
"The Bendigo Basketball Stadium is first-class and will allow Melbourne United to present our game day to the high standard our fans and sponsors have come to expect," he said.
"We are looking forward to showcasing our club to new fans from regional Victoria who may not have had a chance to get to Melbourne to enjoy one of our home games before.
"It is also a chance for our Melbourne-based fans to get out of the city for a day or two and experience all the City of Greater Bendigo has to offer.
"There is so much to see and do in the region so I would really encourage our fans to come up early and enjoy themselves.
"The club is also looking to work with the City of Greater Bendigo to turn this into a regular event each season.
"A number of our players and coaches hail from and have represented country Victoria at a number of levels so to go back and play elite level basketball is great for both our brand and our sport."
Melbourne United looks set to challenge for the NBL title after adding former NBA player and New Zealand Breakers star Scotty Hopson and Australian Boomers big man Jock Landale to its roster.
After the COVID-19 pandemic basically wiped out community sport and major sporting events in 2020, BSL is set for a big start to 2021 with the three NBL matches and a major boxing event featuring Michael Zerafa and Anthony Mundine scheduled inside the first three months of the year.
"2021 will be a strong year for Bendigo Stadium for hosting major events. Since the redevelopment, we have diversified our modelling to lure greater events more often, and next year is shaping up to be one of the most prominent years for events ever seen at the venue,'' O'Neill said.
"Thank you to our community for returning to the Bendigo Stadium over the past couple of months.
"It's pleasing to see so many people out and about in the community supporting local businesses again after a challenging year for everyone."
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