Cheshire Phoenix general manager James Brice believes the club’s move back to Ellesmere Port has created a ‘real buzz’ around the town.
The Nix left the Northgate Arena, their home for 22 years, at the end of last season’s British Basketball League (BBL) campaign and have taken residence at the newly-built, multi-million pound Cheshire Oaks Arena at Ellesmere Port Sports Village.
While wanting to keep their core Chester fanbase, the club have been actively seeking to increase their reach into Ellesmere Port and open up professional basketball in the town to a whole new audience ahead of their BBL opener next month.
“This new arena will be great for the club as it provides us with modern, state-of-the-art home, potential to increase our fanbase and a permanent base for our senior and junior squads to play and train,” said Brice.
“It gives us the platform to help push this club forward and we will make the best of this opportunity.
“There seems to be a real buzz around Ellesmere Port about the club at the moment and people are interested in what we are doing. We’re getting out there into the community and trying to build our fanbase in the town, as well as ensuring we bring across our fans who have given us so much support in Chester over the years.”
LOOK: The Northgate Arena years for the Jets and the Phoenix
The Nix, then known as the Jets, moved from Ellesmere Port to Chester in 1993 and enjoyed much success on the court at the Northgate in the BBL, with the all-conquering ‘Jetwash’ team of 2001-2002 representing a golden era for the club.
Under last season’s head coach John Coffino, the Nix came within a whisker of making the Play-off final at London’s O2 Arena and crowds steadily grew throughout the campaign.
Now, under the stewardship of head coach John Lavery, the club will be aiming to continue that trend in their new home, with a winning team on the floor key to their plans according to Brice.
“We know that fans want to see a winning team and we believe we have recruited well during the off-season,” said Brice, who said the club were close to announcing as many as five new signings.
“We have put together a strong squad that will be competitive and that we think fans will enjoy watching. We can’t wait to start.”
The Nix will play Irish Premier League side Templeogue in a warm-up match at the new arena on Sunday, September 13.
They will also play two pre-season games at Manchester Magic and Liverpool in early September.