If the NBA plans, after 2024 and the renegotiation of TV rights, to create two new franchises, we know that Seattle and Las Vegas are the cities best placed to win the jackpot. In both cities, everyone is in place to welcome a franchise and the enthusiasm is universal in the idea that a team will be reborn in Seattle, and the NBA will finally decide to put its suitcases in Las Vegas.
But on the other side of the border, on the Mexican side, we don’t hear it that way, and the capital Mexico City also believes in its chances. Especially since the NBA often comes there during the regular season, and now there is a G-League team. On Sunday, the Capitanes de Ciudad de Mexico started their season with a huge victory (120-84) against the Rio Grande Vipers, and the NBA confirmed that Mexico is one of the tracks being considered.
“Travel is not a problem”
“Expansion (of the NBA) is currently not on the agenda, but at some point, if we are going to expand, there is no doubt that Mexico City should be a city that should be considered along with many other very important and relevant . cities in North America”Adam Silver’s right-hand man Mark Tatum told Andscape. “One of the biggest challenges of international expansion is always travel and accommodation issues. But there’s a world-class facility in Mexico City, Arena CDMX, where we played in Mexico, and it’s now home to G- League team Capitanes. So that’s not a problem. And travel is not a problem. It’s a relatively short flight for many of our teams, including those in Texas, Florida and New Orleans. From Arizona, it’s really a relatively short flight. So that’s the kind of thing we’re considering, and for all those reasons, we have to consider it. But, again, I would say it’s not on the agenda right away. »
Of course, the “marketing” potential of Mexico City is huge because it is the 6th most populous city in the world with 22 million inhabitants. That’s two and a half times that of New York! Andscape added that a franchise would be that of an entire country, not just the capital, further increasing its appeal.
Of course, there will be obstacles such as security, altitude or even attraction for the players, some of whom are reluctant to play in Toronto…
“We’ve been playing matches in Mexico since 1992. So, and that’s 30 years of matches,” said Mark Tatum. “Five years ago, Adam and I were in Mexico with our team, including our activity manager [Amérique latine]. We talked to some of our partners there, Televisa and other partners in Mexico, and they keep asking us, ‘When are we going to have an NBA team in Mexico?’ And that’s when we started talking and saying, ‘Mexico City is the biggest city in North America’. People don’t notice that. In terms of population, there is no city larger than Mexico City in North America. And the country has 125, 130 million inhabitants and is close to the United States. »
“The city has been ready for a long time”
As so often in the NBA, the G-League serves as a laboratory, and in terms of enthusiasm, it’s a real success. American players are sensitive to this. They’re used to playing in empty halls in the United States, they appreciate the enthusiasm of the Mexican public, and former NBAers like Jahlil Okafor and Alfonzo McKinnie praise the living conditions.
There’s also Shabazz Napier and Gary Clark, as well as “foreigners” like Bruno Caboclo, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and even a Venezuelan. All have a chosen ambassador, Eduardo Najera, the most famous of Mexican players, former glory of the Mavericks.
“I’m here because I want to bring the NBA back to Mexico” he summed up. “The city has been ready for a long time. If you look at the numbers and the fans here in Mexico City alone, that’s pretty significant. Done right, an NBA team can exceed a total [pays]. We are ready. The G-League is definitely the first step. We have to take small steps. If NBA fans in Mexico support this initiative, it’s great that their elders are here. »