NBA eyes Paris, Berlin for regular season games

North American basketball league the NBA has said Paris and Berlin are in the running to host regular season games as it considers a possible European swing of fixtures.

London’s O2 Arena will host its latest game later today (Thursday) as the New York Knicks take on the Washington Wizards. The annual regular season game in the English capital has sold out for the ninth successive year, with tickets at the 19,000-seat venue being snapped up in an hour by fans from 39 nations.

While NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum has discounted the likes of Italy or Spain hosting games, stating they lack NBA-ready arenas, he talked up the prospects for the French and German capitals.

Bercy’s AccorHotels Arena last hosted a pre-season game in 2010 and has recently undergone renovations. “There has been a lot of interest in teams wanting to go to Paris because France is a hotbed for basketball,” Tatum said, according to the Reuters news agency.

“We have nine French players in the NBA now. It’s just a matter of building the right business case and having the right partners in those areas. It is an important market for many of our marketing partners. It’s just a matter of time.

“We’ve had games in Paris before and we took a break because they had to renovate the Bercy. Now that’s done, those conversations have picked up.”

Concerning the potential to tie up several European games, Tatum added: “It’s been one (regular season game) per year. I definitely think there’s room for more than that.

“We will have to figure out what that optimum number is, whether that’s two or three. I don’t think there’s any potential limit as long as it makes sense from a business standpoint.

“Do you split a weekend? A Thursday and a Saturday game? Eurostar in the middle of that? So we are looking at those scenarios. But a lot of it is logistics and caring about the players and the travel.”