The West

Homeless Wildcats closer to Arena deal
Wildcats owner Jack Bendat, right, with coach Rob Beveridge. Pic: Steve Ferrier/WA News

The Perth Wildcats are edging towards an agreement with Perth Arena but are yet to sign a contract to play at the new $550 million stadium just two days out from the start of the NBL season.

The Wildcats meet fierce rivals New Zealand in a round-one grudge match in Auckland on Friday, with their first home game scheduled on November 16 against Adelaide.

Wildcats owner Jack Bendat told the crowd at yesterday's season launch the club had sealed its move to Perth Arena.

"We're moving to the Perth Arena, it's official," Bendat said.

But The West Australian understands more than six months of negotiations with venue management are yet to produce a contract.

The Wildcats have already sold more than 6000 season tickets based on the premise they will play at the 12,500-seat Perth Arena this season.

The club's marketing and ambitious plan to attract 10,000 members has been based around a move back to the heart of the city a decade after it left the old Perth Entertainment Centre for Challenge Stadium in Mt Claremont.

Managing director Nick Marvin, who first said an agreement was imminent in March and repeated that statement in August, refused to comment yesterday.

The Wildcats won eight of nine pre-season games this year and have been installed as early championship favourites.

In typical fashion, Bendat declared nothing less than a record sixth title would satisfy him.

Coach Rob Beveridge wasn't shying away from the challenge.

"We're kidding ourselves if we don't say we are aiming for a championship," Beveridge said.

"We were so close in the last minute of game three (of last season's grand final series) on the road with injury and illness.

"There was a lot of hurt and a lot of pain after that and I think that we've redirected that.

"We're very, very focused and the way the guys are training and the way they look is very, very encouraging. There's no question that that is our aim - to win a championship."

Co-captain Brad Robbins has been ruled out of Friday's season opener as he continues his rehabilitation from wrist surgery.

Beveridge denied there had been a setback despite last week rating his charge a 50-50 prospect for round one.

"He is looking fantastic and I think that's why he's so frustrated - he thinks he can go right now," Beveridge said. "But until the medical staff give him the 100 per cent clearance, we won't play him."

The West Australian

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