Monday, June 16, 2008

The SBL has trouble finding a home court

China Times reported that the SBL, which is entering its 6th season, is having trouble finding a venue to host all the games in the 2008-09 season.

It looks like there are only two options for the league, which hosted a large portion of its games in Taipei City and nearby Taipei County during the past five years, the report said, pointing out that the league has to either move all the games to other cities or suspend the entire season.

Taipei Physical Education College Gymnasium (TPEC Gym), where the SBL games were played in 2004-2007, has been demolished and a brand new dome is being built in the same location. The construction forced the league to move its games to Singjhuang Stadium in Taipei County last season. Problem is, the stadium will be undergoing renovation as well from December 2008 - April 2009.

Guess what? The third (and not-so-good) option, Taipei Municipal Stadium (with a mere 2,000 capacity) will be renovated too! The earliest date of its re-opening will be January 2009.

Which is why the league has to at least move the regular season games to southern cities, something the league and the teams have been reluctantly to do in the past. The answer is simple: it costs them more money to pay for the transportation and accommodation although SBL games have been always very popular outside of Taipei area.

A basketball league in Taiwan, a country ranked around 30th in the world in terms of the naitonal GDP (PPP) per capita, has trouble finding a venue to play in? Can you believe that? That's embarrassing. And that tells you how short-sighted these "basketball people" have been for all these years.

Fans have been calling for the CTBA, the teams and the government to build a nice basketball facility in Taipei area. The truth is we do have some nice basketball arenas in Taipei, such as the Taipei Arena and the National Taiwan University Gymnasium, but the rent were simply too high.

According to the CTBA, the China Times story said, possible host cities for the next season including Taichung City, Miaoli City (Miaoli County), Jhubei City (Hsinchu County), and Hualien City (Hualien County).

For a league that has enjoyed relative success in a traditionally basketball-crazy country, the news is simply unbelievable and sad.