No, the Euroleague has not decided to play the Final Four 2010 in the United States. It even has nothing to do with European basketball. But I find the story highly interesting and it could be adapted in the future by innovative European basketball leagues as well. So let’s check out what I am talking about.
The French Handball federation has organised the Final 4 of their League Cup for the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, this weekend, as the excellent basketball blog “Le Coach Basket” today reports. Besides bringing a totally unknown sport in the United States to play out a domestic French title is already pretty extraordinary, the terms of the deal the French federation has set up are detailed and highly interesting.
In fact, US-based promotion agency New World Sports Enterprises has bought the rights to this Final 4 event from the French League for USD 1 million and has assumed all organizational charges (travel expenses for the teams, lodging, arena, etc.) for a total amount of an estimated USD 2 million. Additionally, the French Handball League will earn 50% of the profits from the event organized in the arena normally used by the Miami Heat.
However, the profits will most likely not be very big this year because the event found its promotional partners only very late, and is currently far from getting a sold out crowd. Still, the organization has managed to sell 11,000 tickets in the Miami area for each of the four games to be played at ticket prices running from USD 30 to USD 150 per game. A package for all four games would cost at least USD 90 and can go for as much as USD 450.
Additionally, organized trips from Europe will cost a minimum of about EUR 1550 and hundreds of fans have booked this package, according to the report.
For me, this sounds like a big success for the French handball federation already. To promote such an event in Miami and have this kind of return seems like a big accomplishment to me. However, the French organizers have concluded a three-year deal with New World Sports and are already in talks to organize the event for Madison Square Garden next year.
As a Euroleague fan, we are used to seeing NBA teams come to Europe or Euroleague teams travel to the US or China for a promotional preseason warmup. But is there a possibility of seeing a major event like a Final 4 competition moving abroad? I could imagine an Adriatic League Final 4 or Copa del Rey being played in an NBA city one day, as the interest of NBA officials is extremely high for these competitions to scout new players.
Domestic and national value of these events may be high to create such an event. But you never know what will happen in the future, and the promotional effect of such a US-based Final Four may become enormous. At least, for the French jandball federation, it seems as though the effects of media exposure worked, as several basketball outlets, including this one, have discussed it.