Canberra in scheme of things in five-year BBL expansion plan

Canberra in scheme of things in five-year BBL expansion plan

The 7th season of the BBL will commence from December 19.

Adam Voges of the Scorchers
Perth Scorchers will be the defending champions in the forthcoming season BBL. (Photo by Stefan Gosatti – CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

Canberra fans have been crying out for BBL action in the capital and a team to call their own since five years and their wish could finally be fulfilled as hopes of securing a Big Bash League (BBL) team of its own have been revived with Cricket Australia planning to capitalise on the competition’s “explosive growth”.

CA boss James Sutherland says expanding the BBL prioritizes being able to “give fans what they want” after Australian cricket launched its new five-year strategy on Thursday. The league has already expanded to include another eight games this summer with Manuka Oval all but locked in to host the Sydney Thunder’s clash with the Melbourne Renegades on January 24.

Cricket ACT boss Cameron French added that they love the idea of having a Canberra based BBL franchise playing but for now is intent on locking down a deal with the Thunder.

“If there was ever expansion we’d certainly put our hands up. Our focus at the moment is hopefully supporting the Thunder to get great crowds whilst they bring games here for the next couple of years,” he said.

Potential expansion bids have emerged in Geelong and the Gold Coast but Canberra already meets a host of operational considerations. However, the commercial viability of a Canberra franchise could be a stumbling block, with BBL officials determined to ensure Cricket ACT would not suffer financially.

While it varies from club to club, the Thunder have previously indicated to Fairfax Media the yearly costs of running a BBL club sums up to $6 million. Even though the formal criteria for expansion has not been issued yet, a venue that is satisfactory from cricket operations, spectator, and broadcast perspective are necessary.

Almost concrete deal

Canberra’s hopes of securing a BBL game might not remain in limbo for much longer if  Thunder general manager Lee Germon does finalize a deal with the ACT government this week. But as French reassured Canberra cricket fans, a deal is nearing completion for the January 24 blockbuster.

“It looks really positive from everything we’re hearing,” French said, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s just a matter of the finer details and making sure everyone’s comfortable with the final arrangement. Hopefully, as Lee said, an announcement in the next week.”

Canberra could host a double header this season with the Thunder still looking to confirm a venue for a home WBBL fixture on January 24. Meanwhile, Canberra will host the under 18 female national championships in Twenty20 and 50-over competitions from November 27 to December 7.