The 10-tonne 3-hour transformation from concert venue to basketball court

Workers removing panels to reveal the basketball court at the National Convention Centre ahead of the Canberra Capitals home game this weekend.
Workers removing panels to reveal the basketball court at the National Convention Centre ahead of the Canberra Capitals home game this weekend.
WNBL round 1, Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre.
The scene at the Capitals' new home, the National Convention Centre.

WNBL round 1, Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre. The scene at the Capitals' new home, the National Convention Centre.

This is the 10-tonne transformation in less than three hours that looms as a stepping stone for moving Canberra's best sporting events to Civic.

A team of eight carry 227 panels of carpet into a shipping container at the back of the National Convention Centre to reveal a 10-tonne basketball court worth $250,000.

It means the Convention Centre's Royal Theatre can morph from a concert or stage-show venue into a basketball stadium in less than three hours.

That means Jimmy Barnes one night and the Canberra Capitals the next as part of the government's vision to have more events in the city and potentially build a $350 million stadium with a roof.

Officials had to cut one metre off the front of the stage to accommodate the dimensions required for basketball regulations and other events that need more floor space.

The Capitals will be a pilot program after shifting their home court from Tuggeranong to the city and the government is also considering plans for an indoor-outdoor arena on the site of the Civic Pool.

The basketball court at the 1700-capacity Royal Theatre has been permanently installed below the carpet area used for functions or crowds at concerts and shows.

There were initial plans to have a roll-in, roll-out 150-panel court to be placed on top of the existing surface for every game of the WNBL season.

But when officials did a trial installation, it took them four days to go from concert venue to basketball court.

They made the decision to lower the court as a permanent structure and put carpet panels on top of the floorboards for other events when there were no basketball games.

Capitals general manager Matthew Phelps gathers a team of eight to 10 people when the Royal Theatre schedule is free and they work for three hours to remove carpet, roll in basketball backboards and clean the court.

"We have about seven trolleys with about 30 to 33 panels [of carpet] each and we wheel those into our storage facility out the back," Phelps said.

"That takes about an hour and a half. Then we have to install our trip hazards and set up the scoreboard ... at the same time we do padding and advertising around the court.

"It's about two and a half or three hours from go to finish. We're getting quicker the more times we do it. The feedback has been great so far. You want people to say, 'wow'."

It's hoped playing games in the city will help attract more fans and pave the way for more sports to follow in the coming years.

The Capitals had their first test run last weekend with two games in 48 hours and will play against the star-studded Melbourne Boomers at the Royal Theatre on Sunday.

The government invested $250,000 to build the court and Capitals and University of Canberra had 1.26 tonne backboards shipped to Canberra from the Netherlands.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

We are proud to reveal the new home of the University of Canberra Capitals for the 2017/18 WNBL season. Get ready UC Capitals fans- our first game at our new stadium at the National Convention Centre is October 6th! ?????????????? To join the team today, follow the links on our website to sign up as a member! #WeAreUCCaps #JoinTheTeam Credit: 5 Foot PhotographyPosted by University of Canberra Capitals on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When the Convention Centre is hosting other events, the backboards and basketball equipment is rolled into the purpose-built storage container.

The court is made up of 227 panels of Tasmanian Oak wood and they are clipped together by a series of metal tongues and locking pins.

New broadcast quality lights have been installed for an illumination level of 1450 lux. The WNBL has returned to television this season after the league secured a broadcast deal for the first time in three years.

There are also new seats, which are a major upgrade from the timber benches Capitals fans had been sitting on at Tuggeranong for the past 17 years.

Basketball will benefit the most given the floor space available is too small for netball and the ceiling height is too low to host volleyball.

The government is keeping a close eye on the Capitals' success as it weighs up several options for building a stadium in Civic.

The preferred model is a rectangular stadium with a roof for rugby league, rugby union and soccer, which would also be able to host indoor sports, functions and concerts.

However, the orientation of a stadium and major works required to Parkes Way could force the government to explore other avenues.

One option could be striking a deal with the Australian Sports Commission to buy Canberra Stadium and upgrade the existing facilities.

There is also an option to build an indoor-outdoor stadium or a new convention centre on the site of the Civic Pool. But the first hurdle for the government is finding a suitable spot to relocate the pool.

StadiArena designs for a new stadium in Canberra.

StadiArena designs for a new stadium in Canberra. Photo: Supplied

Phelps and the Capitals are convinced moving WNBL games to Civic will help them satisfy their existing fan base and attract new supporters.

"With the light-rail project going to Civic, that makes it even better. It brings some activity back into the city on the weekend and there are economic benefits there," Phelps said.

"If we keep winning and have a successful team, hopefully people keep coming along."

WNBL ROUND THREE

Sunday: Canberra Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at National Convention Centre, 3pm.

This story The 10-tonne 3-hour transformation from concert venue to basketball court first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.