Does the success of southern hemisphere players from Australia and New Zealand in the NBA account for the popularity the NBL is enjoying in the 2017 – 2018 season?
Hard to say definitively, but the attendance figures are up eight percent compared to this time last season, so the rise in popularity, along with the rise in the level of the competition, is a welcome occasion for NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger, who made the comment, “Fans are voting with their feet as they embrace world class basketball and first class entertainment at venues across Australia and New Zealand.”
Perth, of all places, has drawn almost 70,000 fans, the most of any team, including population centres such as Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, through the first five round of the NBL season.
“Last weekend’s games attracted 44,577 fans which is the fourth biggest attendance for a round in the past three years,” Loeliger said.“So far our cumulative attendance for the season is 184,327 with the average crowd per game eight per cent higher than the first five rounds of last season which was also a record year for attendances.”
This makes two consecutive years of growth for the NBL. Last year’s attendance was the best ever and at the current pace, 2017 – 2018 will establish a new high water mark.
The crowds are better than those of some other sports, even better than some of the AFL and NRL fixtures of the past season.
Loeliger seems to thing Aussie NBA success has played a role, “…there is no doubt there is renewed interest in the game of basketball with the success of Australians in the NBA and in particular Ben Simmons.”
Melbourne and Sydney are drawing nice-sized crowds. United plays its home games at Hisense Arena, while the Kings are located in a big venue at Qudos Bank Arena.
It would be reasonable to expect continued good attendance with interest rising ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020.