Guildford Heat’s re-location to the campus of the University of Surrey by the end of this season means that three British Basketball League teams will – presuming the line-up remains unchanged – start the next campaign at a different home than this one.
With Milton Keynes about to decamp Bletchley for a temporary venue at Middleton Hall, and Newcastle Eagles packing their bags for Northumbria University next summer, it’s interesting to draw the comparisons with ten years ago – a season that represented the high watermark in terms of available seats around the BBL (and also in the sheer number of freebie tickets that were given away to fill the vast empty expanses in Manchester, Sheffield and London’s Docklands).
Only one team – the Chester/Cheshire Jets - has stayed put (although Plymouth and Worthing were then in the EBL). Even more remarkably, only 5 of the 13 teams from the 1999-2000 campaign have hung around (the Rocks subsequently switched from Edinburgh to Glasgow).
Looking at the capacities from ten seasons ago, down 83 per cent, it’s a stark measure of the down-sizing in the BBL’s ambitions. A year later, Birmingham Bullets and London Leopards retrenched from arenas to leisure centres, Leicester were forced out of their long-time base at Granby Halls and things were never quite the same again.
Cheshire (Northgate Arena): 1300 capacity
Essex (Southend Tennis Centre): 1100
Everton (Greenbank Academy): 600*
Glasgow (Kelvin Hall): 1200
Guildford (Surrey Sports Park): 800
Leicester (DMU): 800
London Capital (Willesden): 300
Milton Keynes (Middleton Hall): 1500
Newcastle (Northumbria University): 2600
Plymouth (Pavilions): 1480
Sheffield (EIS): 1200
Worcester (University): 800
Worthing (Worthing LC): 700
Birmingham (NEC): 13000
Brighton (Brighton Centre): 5000**
Chester (Northgate): 1300
Derby (Thunderdome): 2500
Edinburgh (Meadowbank): 1900
Leicester (Granby Halls): 1500
Leopards (London Arena): 15000
London Towers (Crystal Palace): 3500
Manchester Giants (MEN Arena) 18000
Milton Keynes (Bletchley): 907
Newcastle (Metro Arena): 11000
Sheffield (Hallam Arena): 12500
Thames Valley (Bracknell SC): 1200
*Some games at Echo Arena (7500)
** Some games at The Triangle (1500)