TOUGH LUCK: Grafton Vikings big man Mitch Wicks has been one of the side's best this season as they went on an undefeated run in the Sunshine Conference.
TOUGH LUCK: Grafton Vikings big man Mitch Wicks has been one of the side's best this season as they went on an undefeated run in the Sunshine Conference. Matthew Elkerton

Vikings out in the cold on grand final venue change

BASKETBALL: Grafton Vikings Basketball Association has been left disappointed after Sunshine Conference officials opted to move the grand final to Lismore at the end of the month.

The Vikings have hosted the last two grand finals after earning the right by being the first team through to the big dance.

It is the way grand final hosting rights are decided in several other sports including rugby league and rugby union.

But the conference has decided to go away from that formula this season instead opting to go with the highest-placed women's team. That would be the Ballina Breakers who topped the Grafton Vikings on for and against.

But when it was determined the Breakers courts were not up to the desired standard for Conference finals, the final was moved to Lismore rather than going to the second-highest team in the Vikings.

"We are very disappointed to miss out on hosting the grand final,” Vikings president Nat Ballard said.

"I get the motives behind the move is to try and share the grand final around, and drum up more supporters for the other teams, but it is extremely disappointing for both of our teams who have done extremely well this season.

"It is also tough on our huge spectator base, which has only grown this year, who have supported us the whole way.”

Sunshine Conference president Creina Preston said they were trying to work in the utmost fairness for all clubs.

"This year we decided that the women's tend to get diddled out and get treated a bit like second class citizens,” she said.

"We wanted to go with the top women's side but unfortunately Ballina has had issues with their courts, and the next best thing would be taking the final to Lismore.

"The final is not just Grafton's to host each year, they have had it the last two years and now it will be their turn to travel for the game.”

It is understood several players from the Vikings have felt confused by the decision, with many questioning why they bother playing the regular season if it counts for nothing.

The Vikings will at least get the opportunity to host the Sunshine Conference major semi-finals at the Grafton Sport Centre this weekend when they host the Storm.

The women's game will tip off the night of action at 4.30pm, with men at 6pm.