Fans’ tough BBL|08 Fixture questions answered by Hurricanes General Manager Phil Rigby…
The 4pm home game on Tuesday afternoon 29 January against the Heat at Blundstone Arena – what’s the background behind that timeslot?
Yes it’s an interesting game in our schedule from Cricket Australia which we noticed early on.
But I think we would prefer a 4pm start than say 7:40pm – it’s still in the school holidays and if you think from a family perspective, late in the school holidays you’re trying to find things for the kids to do.
So I think a 4pm game represents an opportunity for young families to come to Blundstone Arena.
And I guess I’m probably putting a ‘shout out’ to businesses around Hobart to give their employees an early mark so they can grab their kids and get along to that game.
What about those two straight blocks of home games at the beginning and close of the season – what will fans make of that?
Well, we’re about to find out this summer when members and fans will vote with their attendances.
It’s not like the football codes where you have a smooth weekend-to-weekend home and away fortnightly rhythm.
Through the whole history of the Big Bash you’ve always had different clumps of matches where you stay at home and then hit the road for different periods.
So with three home games in 11 days in Hobart – while they are all individual blockbusters – our challenge will be to create that compelling proposition for fans to attend each one of those games on its merits.
Having two of those clashes as Friday night games is fantastic to start the weekend and having that marquee Christmas Eve game will be another major incentive for many supporters to come along.
Unfortunately it's impossible to have the perfect fixture for every team and every fan but our draw this year has plenty of upside.
Six out of seven home games during the school holidays, three weekend home games, Christmas Eve, two games in Launceston, five in Hobart, and three home games within that Christmas Eve to New Year's Day break.
Are some clubs favoured over others with their Big Bash League draws?
No club will ever have a 100% win when it comes to your Big Bash fixture and the whole tournament itself has to work around existing domestic and international cricket schedules.
I'm sure there’s eight BBL teams today sitting there going: well, there are plenty of really great things and there’s some things we would change.
So you would prefer a smoother balanced fixture over the course of the whole competition, but fundamentally it will never work that way.
And now there’s 59 matches in just 61 days, with the full home and away schedule of 14 regular games for each club, so there will always be a mix of weekend and weeknight games and various timeslots.
You counter-weigh with the many positive things in your fixture and we’ve been heavily engaged with Cricket Australia for three to four months trying to get the best fixture we can.
Probably the last point to say is that with these fixtures, there’s a whole lot of different stakeholders involved too – broadcasters, stadiums, sponsors etc, so what’s important for one area may be different for another.
Ultimately, we look at members and supporters first, and try to find those matches that will drive attendance.
But at the same time, you have corporate partners that want big TV ratings and national exposure to balance up with club requests.
How many other teams were interested in getting that Christmas Eve game?
One thing at the Hurricanes that we’ve always identified is that we wanted a marquee home game – something that we could really claim as our own.
And a number of years ago, the Big Bash did some market research into fans’ willingness to attend games around Christmas and Hobart tracked very high on Christmas Eve.
So we’ve been talking about this for a long time, and there were a number of teams that wanted it, but we’ve worked with Cricket Australia over a long while and finally secured that match.
We hope it becomes a popular tradition in Hobart and ultimately, it’s about our community becoming part of this new Hurricanes family Christmas time tradition.
It’s our first year to have a real go at it so we wanted to get the balance right with the timing.
Christmas Eve is a busy day – you’re mowing the lawn and getting ready for the big day tomorrow, and on the other side, parents want to get their kids into bed early.
So we specifically fought for an afternoon slot from 3:45pm finishing at 7pm, so that families get a choice of whether they take the kids straight home afterwards and tuck them in for Santa Claus’ arrival, or they can hang around and spend some time at Blundstone Arena with the Hurricanes.
So I think 3:45pm is a better outcome than starting play at 7:30pm at night on Christmas Eve for families.
Would you like this to be a growing permanent fixture in the future?
We would love that, but obviously its success will depend on supporters getting behind the idea – it’s obviously our first time, so there’s lots of elements to plan and work through.
But we would love to have kids that are seven to eight years old this year, in five years’ time coming to the Hurricanes on Christmas Eve and it’s just part of what their family does across Christmas – that would be a fantastic outcome.
Is the two-day home game turnaround from Friday 28 December in Hobart to Sunday 30 December in Launceston difficult to manage?
We are already into July and the team is busy training as the Tigers, but importantly for us, we’ve already played that first BBL game up there at UTAS Stadium. We will be so much more advanced this time around.
The transition will be much easier and the legacy of all the materials and plans and atmosphere that we created last year is there and ready to go, plus we’ll get access to the venue before Christmas so we can bump in.
This is the nature of the Big Bash season, so we manage our staff and players around this busy schedule accordingly – and that includes turning around from a Friday night home game in Hobart to a whole new fanbase up in Launceston on the Sunday for our WBBL and BBL Hurricanes Double Header.
What sort of entertainment can fans expect at the Christmas Eve game – is anything special planned?
Yes there is – we are only at the preliminary planning stages at the moment, but we have an opportunity to create something far bigger than just a Big Bash game.
We are working with a range of different stakeholders to create a big Christmas-themed event starting with Christmas Carols and heaps more so please stay tuned...
BBL|08 tickets go on sale Thursday 4 October while the Hurricanes will launch their full Tasmanian seven-game, Blundstone Arena five-game and new Launceston two-game membership packages later this month.
Otherwise supporters can purchase a Cricket Tasmania Membership with both the Gold and Platinum Package options including all Tasmanian Big Bash matches.