The 2017 National Basketball League Final Four will be held in a city which doesn't have a NBL team.
Tauranga have been given the hosting rights to the NBL finals series, making it the first time since 2013 that the finals series will be hosted in a city with no local team involved.
In 2013, Napier hosted the Final Four, but the Bay Hawks failed to qualify for the semifinals, leaving the arena half-empty for the NBL's crowning weekend.
That is the risk the NBL are taking in trying to attract fans without a local rooting interest, but it is a calculated risk.
Tauranga has played host to Tall Blacks, Tall Ferns and New Zealand Breakers games in the past, largely getting good crowds along. They also played host to the HoopNation tournament, in which the majority of the crowd was from out of town. While that points to the questionable local interest in lower-tier New Zealand basketball, Tauranga's relative proximity to major centres could see a strong out-of-town turnout at the Final Four.
Gauging the novelty factor against the lack of a local team is a decision which will have been debated by the NBL board, with Tauranga also having submitted a bid to have a team in the 2018 NBL.
NBL chairman Iain Potter says that was not a factor in giving the hosting rights to Tauranga.
"Whilst Tauranga has put a bid in for a team in 2018 onwards, it is not the basis for the 2017 Finals destination," said Potter.
Tauranga is not a basketball stronghold, with their representative sides not amongst the usual contenders at national championships. However, neither was Invercargill when they first received a NBL team, and the city has cultivated a fanatic culture with the Southland Sharks.
Invercargill also hosted an excellent Final Four, with a great crowd, in 2016, and were understood to have been in the mix to host again this season.
The Final Four will take place on June 16 and 17 at ASB BayPark Arena, with the semifinals on Friday at 5pm and 7pm. The final is scheduled for earlier than in prior years, tipping off at 5pm on Saturday due to the Maori All Blacks taking on the Lions at 7pm.
All games will be streamed live on nzherald.co.nz, with the Wellington Saints, Southland Sharks, Canterbury Rams and Supercity Rangers heavily favoured to be the teams participating.