TECT Arena at Mt Maunganui and Hamilton's Claudelands Arena are vying for a transtasman netball league playoff if Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic win next Monday and clinch a spot in the top four.
The region's two new stadiums are the only venues being considered for a home playoff, with Magic chief executive Sheryl Dawson yesterday indicating they wanted to nail down their preference by tomorrow at the latest.
Magic are third in the ANZ Championship heading into this weekend's last round but this season's unpredictability means they can still finish anywhere in the top six.
Their final round-robin clash is against the sixth-placed Queensland Firebirds at Claudelands next Monday night. By the time the game rolls around Magic will have a clear idea of where they sit on the ladder and what they need to do to seal a top-four playoffs spot, with goal percentage likely to be needed to separate the final aspirants.
The Melbourne Vixens are in the box seat and odds-on to win the minor premiership and host the 1 vs 2 major semifinal given they play the lowly Southern Steel this weekend. Magic turned a horror start around and are on an eight-match winning run and could yet host the 3 vs 4 sudden-death minor semifinal.
Queensland kept alive their playoff hopes with 63-43 win over the West Coast Fever in Brisbane last Sunday and need to beat Magic and have other results fall their way to sneak into the playoffs.
Dawson, speaking from Australia yesterday, said while they didn't want to get too far ahead of themselves in planning to host a playoff match that might not happen, it would be remiss not to nail down their options.
"We've indicated Claudelands and TECT with TTNL [the competition's governing body, Trans-Tasman Netball League, takes over the running of the playoffs from the host franchise] and have been discussing what will be best in terms of a range of categories if we do get a playoff. Hopefully by late Thursday or Friday we'll have a clearer answer should we get a playoff."
TECT Arena put in additional seating last Saturday to boost capacity to almost 3000, while Claudelands has seating for 3500, although the greater capacity also brought with it increased costs, Dawson said.
"There's a whole range of stuff to go through in terms of cost, revenue and capacity but luckily both venues have been good to work with and we've had great crowds at both. It'll come down to what works best."
All the Magic's previous home playoffs have been at Hamilton's Mystery Creek, which was previously their main home base, although one was played at Auckland's Vector Arena due to a double booking.
One factor out of Dawson's control but of concern is the timing of the playoffs, with the semifinals set down for Sunday, July 8, and Monday, July 9. Dawson said indications were that if the semifinals were spread over both sides of the Tasman then the game in Australia would be on Sunday and the New Zealand game on Monday.
"The challenge we've always faced with semifinals or a final if we've hosted them is the rapid turnaround, getting people into the venue and getting them to purchase tickets quickly. There's been issues in the past when it comes to this end of the competition, with people looking at a Monday night game and thinking to themselves whether they stay home and watch it on TV or go.
"Our preference would be for a Sunday game, and maybe if it was Mystics and Magic is could even be within travelling distance."