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NBA IS EL AMOR EN MEXICO: LEAGUE MAKES REGULAR-SEASON DEBUT
Published December 8, 1997
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).