Chris Lucas.
Chris Lucas is likely to be the inaugural coach of the new Geelong team in the WNBL. Image by Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS
  • basketball

‘Enormous’: Geelong United to replace WNBL’s Boomers

Jasper Bruce May 10, 2024

Geelong United’s chief executive has hailed the team’s introduction into the WNBL as an “enormous step” for women’s sport in Australia.

United will replace the Melbourne Boomers for the 2024/25 WNBL season after Basketball Australia approved a private consortium of Geelong-based investors in its bid to buy the Boomers’ licence.

Geelong United chief executive Mark Neeld said there was now a pathway for women and girls in the region to rise through the ranks of basketball into elite participation.

“We believe it’s a significant step for Geelong as a region, to have another national sporting team,” the former AFL player and coach told AAP.

“We believe it is an enormous step forward for female sport, not only in our region but around Australia and we believe it’s a significant step for basketball.”

Geelong United will host home games at the cost-effective, 2000-seat Geelong Arena, but AAP understands the long-term plan is to move to a proposed new venue at Waurn Ponds on the city’s southern outskirts.

The club is currently in talks with local, state and federal governments about the construction of the 5000-seat venue, which had initially been part of plans for Victoria’s ill-fated 2026 Commonwealth Games.

United have exclusive rights to negotiate with last season’s Melbourne Boomers roster until free agency begins on June 10, and have already opened talks with players from that roster.

Boomers coach Chris Lucas is likely to take charge of the new Geelong team, though a deal is yet to be finalised.

That shapes as a big boost for Geelong’s hopes of early success as the Boomers played finals last season for a seventh consecutive campaign.

Anyone outside of last year’s WNBL talent pool is also up for grabs, with rival players on the market from June 10.

The 2024/25 campaign will mark the first time Geelong has been represented by an WNBL team since 1986, when the Geelong Cats placed 11th on the ladder in their sole season.

Geelong United currently field women’s and men’s teams in second-tier competition, NBL1.

In March, AAP reported Geelong United’s takeover of the Boomers licence appeared imminent, pending approval from BA.

The consortium had approached BA with a business model it felt guaranteed the team could turn profit from the outset, given roles within club management could be outsourced to staff from businesses in that consortium.

Of the current WNBL franchises, only the Townsville Fire operates at a profit.

AAP understands terms were finalised on Thursday, with BA unveiling the new team on Friday morning.