The ACT government will unlock the AIS Arena doors if the Hawks want to bring NBL games to Canberra but Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the city's power brokers have "higher priorities" than bidding for basketball content.
A new ownership model has seen the foundation club ditch "Illawarra" from its name, with the team to be known only as the Hawks as they look to expand their footprint across Canberra, regional NSW and potentially other venues.
Discussions are yet to officially begin between the Hawks and ACT officials but Barr says it is unlikely the government will pour money into the club, adding they would be welcome in the capital if ticket sales support it.
Crowds of 3808 and 3344 have filtered into the AIS Arena to watch the Hawks in their two appearances in Canberra over the past two seasons.
The Hawks ownership group includes Australian entrepreneur and former Sydney Kings co-owner Dorry Kordahi, ex-NBA executive Bryan Colangelo and US businessman Michael Proctor.
"If they wish to have a future in this region, they can, through the basketball community and sponsors get themselves into a position where that is viable," Barr said.
"The whole sport industry has to now adjust down its cost base and that is happening. That's just a reality, that TV rights aren't what they were, governments don't have the capacity to give major subsidies to sport, certainly they're not going to increase from the levels they're at at the moment.
"If they can get the business model right, I've got no problem with them wanting to include the Canberra region in a broader footprint.
"But if the idea is, or suggestion is that the ACT government would buy shares in the team or invest in it, no. We've got higher priorities at the moment.
"They're very welcome to play games at AIS Arena, and if they can make that [happen] and the ticket sales would support it, then great, that would be fantastic."
Basketball ACT chief David Simpson and chairman Allan Yates are keen to welcome the Hawks back for a third successive season.
But discussions about bringing games to the capital are unlikely to ramp up for some time with the NBL season still months away.
"Any initiative that is going to put more of a profile on the sport out in the community and in regional areas is going to be a great thing. It's a great opportunity," Simpson said.
"Anytime we can get NBL games here is a good time for us, for the sport and for the community. We would definitely welcome games in Canberra again.
"It's still very early and it's not something we have been involved as yet. We would welcome discussions with the new owners when the time is right.
"We had a good relationship with the previous owners and we're looking forward to having those sort of discussions again."
Basketball ACT's focus has been geared towards opening the doors of the Belconnen Basketball Stadium again with an eye on premier competitions resuming on July 13.
Juniors will follow suit on July 20, with Simpson bracing for a potential drop in player numbers amid the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic with registrations open for another eight days.