SBD/8/Leagues Governing Bodies

NBA IS EL AMOR EN MEXICO: LEAGUE MAKES REGULAR-SEASON DEBUT

          The NBA played its first regular-season game in Mexico
     on Saturday night as a sold-out crowd of 20,635 watched the
     Mavericks-Rockets at the Palacio de los Deportes (DALLAS
     MORNING NEWS, 12/7).  In Ft. Worth, Richie Whitt wrote that
     the "official Mavericks' impression" of Mexico City was that
     it was a "nice place to visit, but they wouldn't want to play
     here."  Mavs President Terdema Ussery doubted the NBA will
     ever base a team in Mexico: "The league may get mad at me for
     saying it, but I just don't think it can happen. 
     Geographically, it may make sense, but I think getting 15
     players to live here seven months a year would be a real
     challenge" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/7).  
          MEXICAN CALI NEWS: In Dallas, David Moore wrote that
     Mexico's "staggering population and growing interest in
     basketball make it a prime target for expansion after the
     turn of the century."  NBA games are seen on TV Azteca, as
     the league has a $3M deal with the station.  Games averaged a
     6 rating/11 share during the '96-97 regular-season and a
     16.1/24 during last year's Finals.  But MLS Commissioner Doug
     Logan, the former CEO of a group that operated the Sports
     Palace in Mexico City in the early 90's and helped secure a
     CBA team to play in Mexico in '94-95 said, "I think that any
     move by the NBA into Mexico in the short term would be
     precipitous."  Logan noted that problems of possible
     expansion into Mexico include the "wild fluctuations" of
     currency, lack of an arena, the average ticket price and the
     "reluctance of fans to purchase season tickets."  Logan said
     the NBA would have to set the price of a Mexican franchise
     between $90M-100M and "believes the NBA owners would have to
     agree to an unprecedented arrangement where the owners of the
     Mexican franchise would be allowed to keep the TV revenue for
     the entire country" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/6).

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