"First I've heard that WEC is a problem. Correct me if im wrong but I thought WEC was ideally located on the beach strip, in a popular area of the city near entertainment, restaurants and bars. I would have thought that would make it an ideal location to get to and to stay post game."
It is in a good location. But public transport is shyte. And if we got Perth-size crowds, parking would be an issue. But, yes, before and after the game there are many bars and restaurants to go to, all within walking distance. Unlike the Snakepit!
"Poor excuses by Illawarra locals. Just not a supportive town. Time to move the team. They get bigger crowds every other city they go to.
Bendigo or Tassie awaits."
But teams in regional Victoria and Tassie have been and gone. The Hawks have hung in as the only remaining foundation club. Having said that, I would love to see a Tassie team and other teams in the comp (Canberra? Newcastle?) But that shouldn't be at the expense of another team.
"Better crowds I recall (regularly) at the Snake Pit."
That could've been the perception as the Snakepit is a "cosy" venue and regularly sold out. This might have made crowds seem bigger than they were (and I heard rumours, crowds bigger than things like fire regs allowed!). And nearly everyone who went was or had been involved with basketball (played, coached, had kids or family members who played). The atmosphere was very intimate. You could hear the crunch when hard screens were set. And you knew that the referees/opposing coaches could hear remarks directed at them!
"I dont think there is a stadium or arena in the country that offers decent food and beverages and getting ripped off for it."
Granted. And one of the reasons I researched Beanhunter and avoided stadium coffee when my kids played juniors around the state!
"Afaik the rent has always been the problem"
This is what I've heard. Also, when the Hawks had to move to WEC, they lost the revenue from food and drinks. At the Snakepit, these were largely run by volunteers, people involved with Illawarra Basketball (technically separate to the Hawks). So, all the profits went to basketball.
But due to "progress" the Hawks had to move. The NBL had an image it wanted to protect (or project). But, riding on the boom of the '90s did not protect Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, each of which had bigger population bases, capital city transport systems and more venues to choose from. But these boom-time requirements hurt most other regional teams. And remember: there were many regional teams in the NBL's formative years, playing out of their association's facilities, comparable to the Snakepit.
"just how much are tickets for the hawks anyway?"
I think my tickets were about $800 for the season - but that is for pretty good seats. Casual tickets are about $30-50, depending on view.