EUROPEAN EXPANSION STILL ON NBA RADAR

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says expansion to Europe is still on the league’s radar but a permanent franchise across the Atlantic is “not imminent.”

Speaking in Berlin, ahead of Wednesday’s friendly between the San Antonio Spurs and Alba Berlin, Silver admitted that the structure of basketball on this side of the ocean would make any move financially unrealistic with issues like suitable arenas and local marketing offering a very different model than that available in the USA and Canada.

“I don’t think from what I know right now that any of the cities we playing pre-season games in are ready for a NBA franchise,” Silver said. “That’s because our teams are locally able to generate revenue from their cities in terms of the ticket prices, the sponsorships, local television, the suite sales, they all put these cities currently at a disadvantage because the current model doesn’t work here for basketball franchises.

“Having said that, the model continues to evolve. And that’s why we continue to play these pre-season games: to test these markets. We’re experimenting in London with regular season games so I’m not sure how far off we are.”

The 02 Arena in London will host another regular season game in January 2015 between the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks. Before long, other places could come into the frame if the right infrastructure is available.

“I’m not sure how much of it is about facilities,” Silver added. “We have a state of the art arena in London. You have here (in Berlin). Bercy Arena in Paris is in the process of upgrade. I was in Spain a few weeks ago for the World Cup of Basketball and had discussions with organisations in Barcelona and Madrid about plans for future arenas.

“So I would say I’ll see. We have no immediate plans to expand at the moment but we’re watching the world economies, the growth in the sport and it’s our hope one day that we’ll be in a position to expand to Europe. It’s hard to see a specific timetable. It’s not imminent but it’s something we continue to look at.”

Silver also claimed that the timetable for selling sponsorship on NBA uniforms is not immediate but he believes it is inevitable.

The monetary benefits, he hinted, would be huge.

“I’d like to think it would be a lot.” he smiled.

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