Plenty of steps would have to be completed for it to become a reality, but the potential viability of a Mexico City NBA team is drawing some discussion.
Earlier this month, the Brooklyn Nets played two games at Mexico City Arena–one against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and another versus the Miami Heat. Those games came as the NBA continued to work on maintaining a strong presence in Mexico, as the league is also moving forward with plans to open an academy in Mexico City. Furthermore, the league has recently discussed the possibility of eventually putting an NBA Gatorade League franchise in Mexico.
Given the large population base of the Mexico City area and its ties to the league, many are now wondering whether a Mexico City NBA team is an inevitability down the road. Local officials such as mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera sound enthusiastic about the possibility, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver has stressed that plenty of work will need to be completed before the league could place a team there. However, with buzz for future expansion building, Mexico City looks to be a market that could find itself in the mix. More from The New York Times:
“We have a lot more work to do before we can put a team here,” Silver said.
Yet it is also true that Silver has called expansion inevitable, which helps explain why the NBA has begun exploring the viability of a Mexican franchise as seriously as it ever has. The league recently established its first day-to-day basketball enterprise in Mexico, through a youth development academy, and is pushing to start an NBA G League franchise as quickly as possible, perhaps as early as next season.
It is no mystery why league officials feel compelled to give Mexico — and Mexico City specifically — every chance to prove itself as suitable soil. The country’s proximity to the United States and its capital city’s population in excess of 20 million are impossible to ignore, given what such numbers could mean in terms of new revenue streams and expanding the game’s global fan base.
Silver said a Mexico City franchise could also help grow the sport in the United States, where there are roughly 35 million people of Mexican descent and nearly 57 million Latinos.
It is worth noting that Silver has indicated that the league is not currently looking into expansion or the potential relocation of an existing team. Furthermore, plenty of factors would have to be considered when it comes to the feasibility of an NBA franchise in Mexico, and other markets could factor into an expansion process if it opens up down the road. However, the buzz surrounding potential NBA expansion has grown of late, thanks in part to the league’s efforts in Mexico City and the plans in Seattle move forward with a renovation of KeyArena that will bring the venue to NBA standard.
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