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SBD Global/April 3, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Owners, Sponsors Seek Answers For Chinese Basketball Association To Reach Potential

Gilbert Arenas is one of many former NBA players who have lifted the CBA's prestige.
Despite a "boom in media and sponsorship interest," a growing number of teams in the Chinese Basketball Association are calling for structural changes to the league, according to Sun Xiaochen of CHINA DAILY. The CBA season concluded on Friday, drawing "solid TV ratings and attendance." Big-name imports like Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas "helped draw a reported investment" of $322M from sponsor Li Ning, while "a crop of young Chinese players emerged as potential stars." Still, the CBA "has a long way to go to reach its potential as a professional league." Begun as a State-run system in the '90s, the CBA has "retained full control of all major decisions, on everything from hiring a promotional agency to upgrading stadiums." Zhejiang Lions Manager Ye Xiangyu said, "I think it's time for some radical changes, like releasing all rights to the clubs. It's the time to establish a league council made up of the owners, like the NBA's board." Many teams "would prefer to extend the length of the season." With such a short season, clubs and sponsors "lose out on money from ticket sales, merchandising and promotional activities."  Still, governing-body officials "don't seem eager to make any changes quickly." CBA competition department Dir Bai Xilin said, "We've heard different views on the reform from everywhere. The current mode has been tested by many years of operation. It's good to have suggestions, but we need more discussion and research before taking action" (CHINA DAILY, 4/2).
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