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The Roar


From Boom to Bust: A sad day for women's sport as WNBL’s oldest club is no more

The Boomers have a long history in the WNBL. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)
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10th May, 2024

Sadly, on Thursday the owners of WNBL club the Melbourne Boomers handed back their license which has been transferred to a Geelong-based consortium.

The Melbourne Boomers have been a part of the WNBL for 40 years. For the majority of their existence the team was known as the Bulleen Boomers. They played home matches at Sheahan’s Road Basketball Centre, Keilor Basketball Stadium and the Melbourne Entertainment Centre. However, the most iconic venue for the Bulleen Boomers is the Veneto Club.

The Boomers were operated by the Bulleen-Templestowe Basketball Club (BTBC). In 2014, the Boomers changed their name to the Melbourne Boomers and moved from the Veneto Club to State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South. The Boomers also changed their colours from blue and gold to purple and gold.

In 2016, the BTBC decided to no longer operate the WNBL license and there was doubt about the continuance of the Boomers at that stage. The current group of owners took over the license then.

In 2021, when the State Basketball Centre was being redeveloped the Boomers moved to the Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville, aka the Boom Box.

Some of Australia’s best players have played for the Boomers including Michele Timms, Ezi Magbegor, Jenna O’Hea, Cayla George, Bec Allen and Liz Cambage. Not to mention some of my all-time favourite players – Sara Blicavs, Rachel Jarry, Hollie Grima and Maddie Garrick.

The Boomers’ imports have included current WNBL MVP Jordin Canada as well as Tiffany Mitchell, Lindsay Allen and Sophie Cunningham. Boomers coaches are also a who’s who of Australian basketball coaches including Tom Maher, Cheryl Chambers, Lori Chizik, Guy Molloy and Chris Lucas.


As Bulleen, the Boomers won the 2010/2011 WNBL Championship with a roster including O’Hea, Jarry, Cambage, Desiree Glaubitz and Sharin Milner. The team was coached by Maher and Timms was an assistant.

The Boomers won their second and final WNBL championship in 2021/2022. Molloy coached a team that included Magbegor, George, Mitchell, Lindsay Allen, Tess Madgen and Penina Davidson to the title.

No doubt any Boomers fans present at the Boom Box will remember the Game 3 win by 18 points forever. It was an amazing turnaround after the Perth Lynx won game one at the same venue by 27 points just a week earlier. Boomers fans were glued to their TV for the thrilling one point victory in Perth in Game 2 of that series.

The fan engagement and game day experience at Boomers games was great. The giveaways at home games, in particular Bertocchi ham and salami, Adairs furniture and Williams Shoes vouchers as well as Dexter’s Conga Line stand out. Given Dexter is linked to Deakin University and Deakin has campuses in Geelong, Dexter may live at the new team.

The majority of these great initiatives were as a result of the great work of former Melbourne Boomers general manager Justin Nelson.

It is sad that there will only be one WNBL team based in Melbourne, the Southside Flyers. Although, there will still be three teams in Victoria with the Geelong based consortium joining the Flyers and the Bendigo Spirit. Melbourne’s loss is Geelong’s gain. Basketball fans in Geelong and the surrounds get behind your new team.


As someone who lives in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne I was spoilt with the Boomers playing home games for a number of years at the State Basketball Centre and the Dandenong Rangers/Southside Flyers playing at Dandenong Stadium (now playing at the State Basketball Centre). Geelong and Bendigo may be a bit far for me to regularly attend matches.

I have been a member of the Boomers and the Flyers, so I will continue to attend Flyers games. But I am a bit weird, and I know many Boomers fans despise “their rivals” the Flyers. So, it will be more difficult for those fans to jump on board the Flyers.

In the release announcing the end of the Boomers, Chair Tony Hallam “noted that the Boomers have been funded by its private owners for eight seasons to the tune of $1.5 million and the owners are unfortunately not in a position to continue underwriting the significant investment required.”

The release also noted that the “significant rising costs cannot continue to be absorbed just by the private owners, without the support of the current league owner, Basketball Australia.”

Some critics might say that there weren’t enough people attending Boomers games but there were many sell outs at the Boom Box this season.

Thanks to the current owners for providing fans with an extra eight seasons of the Melbourne Boomers.

Given the Opals have been in the top three or four nations for 20 plus years, it is disappointing that the WNBL have not been able to better commercialise that international success.


There have been some discussions about Larry Kestelman taking over the WNBL from Basketball Australia. Kestelman took over the NBL when the league and some clubs were teetering on the edge, now the league is thriving.

Please Basketball Australia get Kestelman involved in the WNBL, so it can thrive in the future. I have seen reports that some at Basketball Australia still believe selling the NBL to Kestelman was not the right decision. I am not sure what planet those people are living on. Can these people get their heads out of the sand in relation to the WNBL before it is too late?

As a member of the Collingwood Super Netball team, who finished up last season and the Melbourne Rebels, who have an uncertain future. The feelings of loss in relation to sporting teams are becoming all too familiar for me. Apologies in advance to fans of Collingwood AFL, Melbourne Mavericks, Melbourne Stars, Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Vixens and the Southside Flyers.

The demise of the Melbourne Boomers … a sad day for Basketball and women’s sport in Melbourne and Australia.