Birmingham Panthers - Franchise History - Venue Difficulties

Venue Difficulties

On September 11, it was announced that due to health and safety risks, the Aston Events Centre was not in a suitable condition to host Panthers' home games, thus a search for an alternative venue was conducted at short notice. The National Indoor Arena and Birmingham Sports Centre were both considered, however the board settled on the 500-seat capacity Nechells Community Sports Centre on Rupert Street in Nechells as their final choice.

Panthers played their inaugural match away on September 16 at local rivals Worcester Wolves in a Pre-Season friendly. Unfortunately for Panthers fans, the team lost 108-81. Luck didn't change a week later when the Panthers took to the court in their first ever league game, away to Leicester Riders, who defeated them with a similar scoreline, 101-79. The fact that none of Birmingham's import players had yet arrived only added to Coach Nigel Lloyd's woes, and just a few days later the clubs' dream of returning professional basketball to the city of Birmingham hung in the balance.

After having to uproot venue from Aston to Nechells, the club were forced again to seek alternative venues to stage home games as the cost and facilities available at their new home did not suit the club. Just days before their first home fixture, against Leicester on October 6, the Birmingham Mail broke the news that the club were planning to relocate to Telford, 35 miles north of Birmingham. Defeating the object of Panthers' franchise application, the BBL blocked the move in an attempt to keep basketball in Birmingham, and after discussions with the University of Wolverhampton, a deal was struck on October 2 to use their Walsall Campus Sports Centre as the home venue for all of the clubs' games for the upcoming season.

On October 21, the Panthers got their first BBL win at home to local rivals Worcester Wolves. They won the game 98-86 with Daniel Sandell led all scorers with 38 points for the Panthers, while Anthony Paez led the Wolves' scoring with 32. A long and difficult season ensued for the Panthers, who managed to notch up only 6 victories throughout the whole league campaign, coupled with first round exits in both the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy. Their Trophy game with Worcester was switched to the NIA, former home of the Bullets, in a one-off showpiece game but were pipped to the honours losing 91-95.

Read more about this topic:  Birmingham Panthers, Franchise History

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