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Illawarra Dropped As Hawks Awarded To New Owners

The NBL has announced it has awarded the licence for the Illawarra Hawks to a syndicate of local and overseas investors, who are planning to remove Illawarra from the clubs’ name.

The syndicate includes Australian entrepreneur and former co-owner of the Sydney Kings, Dorry Kordahi, former NBA executive, Bryan Colangelo, and US businessman and basketball influencer, Michael Proctor.

The new owners will drop the Illawarra connection from the foundation clubs’ name as the franchise looks to broaden its fanbase, despite the team still set to be based in Wollongong.

Hungry Jack’s NBL owner and executive chairman, Larry Kestelman, said the ownership group will take the club to the next level in the competition.

“This is an exciting announcement for the Hawks and further endorsement of the Hungry Jack’s NBL as one of the leading basketball leagues in the world,” Kestelman said.

“There was widespread interest from a number of overseas and local parties, and we believe this is the best credentialled group to deliver long term success on and off the court for our proud foundation club.

“They have a proven track record in business and basketball to be able to take the Hawks to the next level as the NBL continues on its strong growth trajectory after five consecutive years of record attendances and broadcast audiences as well as increased global recognition.

“And the syndicate is still open to other business people from Australia and overseas to be involved.

“The decision in choosing the right owners was not an easy one and I want to acknowledge and thank all those who were part of the thorough process undertaken.

“I would like, in particular, to thank LaMelo Ball and his organisation for the support and interest shown in wanting to achieve the best outcome for the team that has helped him have a chance at being the number one NBA Draft pick.

“We hope we can explore future opportunities with LaMelo and wish him all the best for the NBA Draft in October and his ambition to be the best ever player in the game,” he said.

NBL commissioner, Jeremy Loeliger, said the new owners are hopeful the Hawks can expand their footprint across New South Wales and beyond.

“The intention is for Wollongong to remain the primary base for the Hawks, supported by positive discussions with Venues NSW about upgrading the WIN Entertainment Centre to ensure we have the best venue possible to deliver world class entertainment for Hawks fans,” Loeliger said.

“There are also opportunities for the Hawks to grow their fan base across the region following their success in taking games to Canberra in recent seasons.

“I wish our newest team owners the very best for the coming season.

“We are confident that once we get back out on the court, the Hungry Jack’s NBL is going to be as hotly contested as ever,” he said.

Dorry Kordahi added the main goal for the owners is to grow the organisation as a respected program.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the syndicate and myself to positively contribute to the ongoing success of the NBL, give back to the local basketball community and embrace the rich history of the only founding club to create a team that fans can be proud of,” Kordahi said.

“Our goal and main drive are to grow the Hawks organisation and establish a respected program in the NBL.

“We believe we have a unique collective of experience, knowledge and networks, both in basketball and business to deliver this,” he said.

Finally, Bryan Colangelo said the goal is about growing more than just the Hawks, but Australian basketball in general.

“Australian basketball with its great history has been on a significant rise for many years now and the NBL has played a significant role in growing the sport’s awareness and participation levels, while developing some of the best athlete and coaching talent the world has to offer,” Colangelo said.

“We are thrilled to be selected as new partners with the league and pledge to outperform the expectations placed on us and deliver for Hawks fans.

“With the Next Stars initiative, the league has strategically positioned itself as a viable alternative for young athletes seeking a premium player development and athlete care model that best prepares them for competing at the sport’s highest levels.

“LaMelo Ball, among others, serves as a great example of just how influential the NBL has become on a global basis,” he said.