Australia should host the 2023 Basketball World Cup

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    Basketball is this country’s sleeping giant, and it will remain that way unless Basketball Australia submits a bid to host the 2023 World Cup before the entries close at the end of August.

    So far there are four confirmed bids for the event: Russia; Turkey; Indonesia, Japan and Philippines; and Argentina and Uruguay.

    All credible bids, but entries Australia can match or better.

    It is concerning a bid isn’t even on the radar, given what it could do for the sport and tourism in this country. The Federal Government wasted $45 million on the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, which didn’t stand a chance against the USA, even if the bidding process was solely based on merit.

    But it is not the Federal Government’s fault they aren’t forking out – they probably don’t even know the event is a possibility. It’s up to Basketball Australia to make them aware of the financial boon this country will receive if it hosts such an event.

    The added benefit is that the government doesn’t even have to spend money on infrastructure. Regardless, once the government is made aware of this, BA should have the financial and political support to host the event.

    The 2023 World Cup could be the second-biggest team sporting event in the world in terms of attendances and TV ratings. All that’s needed is a strong host nation (Australia), an internationally recognised superpower (USA Dream Team), time zones suitable for Asia (tick) and great stadia (tick).

    Team USA would command centre stage of Australia’s sporting landscape for two full weeks, filling stadiums in a way that the Basketball World Cup has never been able to do before.

    If the Boomers, flush with NBA players, were to meet USA in the final, it could be the single greatest team sporting event in the history of Australian sport. If Australia were to upset the Americans, it would easily unseat the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, the 2005 FIFA World Cup qualifier, or the 2015 Cricket World Cup final. It would become our version of America’s ‘Miracle on Ice’ from the 1980 Winter Olympics.

    Australia has the nucleus of a team that could pull off such a feat. By 2023, we would have ten players under 40 with extensive NBA experience, including a starting five that in age terms would still be in their prime: Thon Maker, Jonah Bolden, Ben Simmons, Dante Exum and Matthew Dellavedova.

    If their careers develop over the next six years, the hype and anticipation at this event will be enormous, and even greater if the event is in Australia.

    In terms of stadia, there are two golden opportunities.

    The NSW Government are not sure what to do with ANZ Stadium, which seems amateurish. The option of keeping a capability to host oval and rectangular sports has time and again proven to be a failure, especially when the minor oval tenant averages 10,000 per match in a domestic sporting league.

    The model the NSW Government should adopt is Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, which serves rectangular sports, with the added benefit of hosting the NCAA basketball Final Four, bringing in around 100,000 fans. This would put ANZ Stadium in the box seat to host the ‘Final Four’ of the World Cup, which would likely draw crowds of 80,000 for the semis and final, smashing the tournament attendance record.

    No other nation would be capable of achieving this in 2023 as no other nation currently bidding for the World Cup will have a team matching the quality of Australia’s in six years’ time, nor the stadium capacity.

    In Brisbane, there is a market-led proposal the Queensland Government is mulling over named Brisbane Live, which includes building an indoor sports arena in the CBD, something the city desperately needs if it is to become a ‘New World City’.

    If Queensland gets behind this proposal, such an event would help make the project viable, especially if it were to secure a quarter-final match or two.

    There is not much on the horizon in terms of international sporting events being hosted in Australia. We won’t host the FIFA World Cup before 2038 (albeit we might host the women’s version in 2023 with much fanfare), we might host the Rugby World Cup in 2027 or 2031 (but that would be just to watch the All Blacks lift the trophy for the fifth/sixth consecutive time), the Cricket World Cup might be extinct (albeit replaced by T20), so there is not much to look forward to after the Commonwealth Games.

    Enter basketball. The NBA is hugely popular in this country, the NBL is resurging, and the national team is building something special – much like the Socceroos’ golden generation.

    Given the troubles Australian basketball has faced since the nationalisation of AFL in mid-1990s and the temporary demise of the NBA post-Michael Jordan, Basketball Australia is being presented a once in a lifetime opportunity to recorrect that downturn with one strike.

    Not only will this potentially elevate the domestic league to be in the top four of this country, but also elevate the Basketball World Cup on the international stage to an event that is second only to the FIFA World Cup.

    It is incredible to think the greatest team sporting moment in Australia’s history could be played on our shores in just six years’ time, but we don’t seem to be doing much about it to make it happen.

    We only have three weeks to submit a bid to FIBA, if Basketball Australia won’t do it, the fans should.