It seems everywhere you turn basketball fans of all ages are shooting hoops in the Bay of Plenty.

No other sport has had the growth in the region's schools over the last five years. Numbers have increased by 78 per cent in the last five years, according to the NZ Secondary Schools Sports Council's 2017 census.

While badminton and volleyball have increased at a faster rate since 2000, basketball has attracted more young participants in the last five years.

Read more: Opinion: How Rotorua's Steven Adams is influencing Tauranga's basketball players


The down side is the demand for courts has outstripped the facilities available, particularly in the Western Bay.

Tauranga City Basketball general manager Mark Rogers said they were turning people away from the sport.

"We can't cater for the demand which is a great problem to have but it is still a problem. We exist to provide opportunities for people to play the sport."

Rogers said funding and facilities were the biggest issues they faced.

"We don't get the funding that some of the other sports do, so providing quality opportunities for people is always a challenge. We have had huge growth locally in the past five years and the numbers of facilities for basketball have not kept pace.

"Obviously it does not happen overnight putting up a facility and there is a lot of work that councils need to do around planning and making sure they are in the right spots and serving the needs of the community."

Factors involved in the surge in demand to play basketball include the comprehensive coverage of US-based basketball on SKY TV, the popularity of Rotorua's Steven Adams in the NBL and the NZ Breakers' success.

There is also an educational pathway with more than 100 young New Zealanders in the USA college system on basketball scholarships.

NZ Breakers player Tom Abercrombie with Sabastian Drew, 9, before last year's game in Tauranga v Brisbane Bullets. Photo / File
NZ Breakers player Tom Abercrombie with Sabastian Drew, 9, before last year's game in Tauranga v Brisbane Bullets. Photo / File

Bay Venues has been looking at upgrading facilities and new facilities so hopefully that would provide more venue space for basketball, Rogers said.

"That is a long-term plan and highlights the expected continued growth over the next foreseeable future. We are trying to think outside the square and are working with council in converting existing indoor and outdoor facilities that could be multi-use to include basketball.

"With our climate there is an opportunity for passive basketball where people can go and shoot some hoops and play. Just the opportunity to go and practice is a big challenge for people as well."

Bay Venues chief executive officer Gary Dawson said a feasibility study for a new events centre at ASB Baypark should be completed by the end of March.

"The idea of that is to build a structure that is flexible and can be used for things like indoor concerts and events, trade shows, home shows and those sort of things. By doing that we then make available more time for indoor sports [at ASB Arena]," he said.

"At the moment when we have a home show or a concert it impacts on sports such as basketball and volleyball. We think by having a purpose-built events centre we'll alleviate the pressure that we are increasingly experiencing for those nine indoor courts."