During the Final Four, BallinEurope had the opportunity at halftime of the third-place game to speak in near exclusivity with Euroleague basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu. Bertomeu invited us together with Horst Schneider from German Forward Magazine and Ian Whittell from the Times of London to talk about the agreement with AEG and what this means for Euroleague basketball.
The first subject was, of course, the German and the British market as the two representatives from the written press wanted to get more info about Euroleague plans for Berlin and London hosting the Final Four in the future.
Germany is a huge market for Euroleague Basketball. We want to help the German league to develop, that’s why we gave them more spots in our “second league.”We consider Germany a top priority in our development for the future. That’s also why we chose Berlin as host for the next Final Four. First of all, we know that our fans want and love to travel and it is important to us that the people love the cities where they go to. Secondly, Berlin has a huge basketball tradition with ALBA Berlin. And then of course there is the venue, the brand new O2 World.
We had a bit of the same ideas with Great Britain and the choice to give a Final Four to London in the near. Well except for the Basketball tradition.
Then, of course, the new cooperation with AEG was a subject that had to be treated.
We want to use the experience of AEG in Sports Marketing. The clubs need this to become bigger and more important. For the moment, some teams already play in nice new arenas but some do not. We have made recommendations in this direction in the past (min. 10,000-seat arenas among others) but they were only recommendations. We have a board meeting in July and we want to make this a rule for being active in about 2-3 years. We want to give the teams the necessary delay to put everything in place. And through these recommendations, a number of projects is actually in the making. Sopot, Siena, Istanbul, Rome, Kaunas, Ljubljana or Zagreb have projects or are already building new arenas fulfilling these standards. Here then would AEG be in the game. With their experience of how to build and of course how to run such an arena, they can give the teams the necessary knowledge to use their new facilities.
We also talked about the relationship between the NBA and the Euroleague, especially of the competition between both leagues in terms of players, and about the “project” to have a NBA League in Europe.
For the moment, we don’t see the NBA as a competitor as they only play a very small number of games in Europe compared to the ULEB competitions. However, we have some trouble with the players leaving the Euroleague too early to go to the NBA. For example, our Rising Star trophy winner Danilo Gallinari: Ettore Messina said that he needs at least three more years in Europe to be ready for the NBA.
But the gap between the leagues is becoming much closer. I consider even that the playing level in the Euroleague is better than in the NBA. However, on the marketing side, we are behind.