A National Basketball League franchise based in the Bay of Plenty is a step closer today after Tauranga City Basketball officially submitted an application to join the league next year.
Of the five potential franchises that have shown an interest in joining the seven existing franchises only Tauranga City have applied for 2017 consideration.
Otago, North Harbour, Manawatu and Porirua will continue to work for future inclusion.
Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter says the Tauranga City bid will know whether they are successful within the next fortnight.
"The NBL board set yesterday as the deadline for applications and gave a fairly clear indication of what applicants would need to do to be considered," Potter tells herald.co.nz.
"In two weeks the board will make a decision on whether that will be approved for this year or next year.
While it isn't a certainty that the new franchise will be approved - the NBL was pretty clear on the criteria required for inclusion and Tauranga City have given an indication they would only apply for 2017 if they were confident of meeting what had been asked of them.
"If the board was satisfied that they had met all the criteria - and one of the key criteria they'd need to demonstrate is that they are going to be sustainable - then there would be no impediment to them joining," Potter says.
"If we had five franchises wanting to join and they all ticked the boxes then that might be different.
"If they met all the criteria and the board was happy then I'm sure they would be approved."
Tauranga is considered a strong bid with a big population base, a first class playing facility and it would give the league a second franchise in the northern half of the highly populated North Island.
Bids from North Harbour and Otago are likely to be submitted before next April for inclusion in the 2018 competition while Porirua and Manawatu are also possible options for the future as Potter explains.
"They have missed the 2017 schedule. The NBL board has told them they have to apply by the 30th of April next year for 2018.
"They need to do what Tauranga City has done in demonstrating they have likely funding sources, what the ownership structure is, their approach to playing roster etc.
"Places like Otago are appropriately and cautiously working themselves to a position where they feel they can apply. They don't feel like they are quite there yet and it might be another year or two before they can come in.
"They have seven months or so to decide whether they want to be in for 2018 or keep working for 2019."
All seven franchises from this year's competition will return next year.