Spurs-T'Wolves Game In Mexico City Cancelled After Smoke Fills Arena
Last night's Spurs-T'Wolves game in Mexico City had to be cancelled "after a generator malfunctioned during pregame warmups, filling Mexico City Arena with smoke and forcing the building to be evacuated," according to Jeff McDonald of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. The cancellation of the event in Mexico marked "a disappointing night for the NBA, which had billed the game as an attempt to open further inroads in Latin America, and an embarrassing one for Mexico City, which opened the sparkling new arena in 2012 in order to host events such as this." The league said that the game, part of the NBA's Global Games schedule, "will be rescheduled in Minneapolis for a later date." It was "originally slated to be just the second regular-season game in NBA history to be played on Mexican soil." The game was "approaching a sellout" and the pregame "atmosphere was festive." About "an hour and a half before tipoff, smoke began billowing into the arena bowl through a duct in the ceiling, and half the building lost power." Some players "continued warming up on the court for about 20 minutes before being evacuated." Spurs players "heading out to the court reported the foul-smelling smoke wafting into their locker room." Shortly before tipoff, visibility inside the arena was "down to nil." Spurs officials during the delay "expressed health concerns about the prospect of playing in smoky conditions in an arena at an altitude higher than Denver’s (7,943 feet)" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 12/4). In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda reports T'Wolves players, coaches and front-office personnel following the evacuation "gathered outside the arena near team buses while NBA and arena officials decided what to do." Options to "clear the arena of the smoke and play the game nearly two hours delayed after the original 8:30 p.m. start time, or reschedule it for Thursday night were considered and refused" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/5).
SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: ESPN Deportes' Alvaro Martin said for "everybody here in Mexico who had such high hopes for a sellout crowd and a great game, they're going to have to wait and perhaps watch it on television” (“SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/4). Mexico City Arena Marketing Manager Adrian Perez said that fans "will be reimbursed" (AP, 12/5). ESPN's Tim Legler said the cancellation is a "shame for everybody involved." Legler: "Logistically, it’s a nightmare. It’s a waste of time and a waste of money. ... It’s unfortunate for the people of Mexico City, who wanted to see an NBA game there for the first time in 17 years in this beautiful new arena. Both teams inconvenienced. So it’s a shame for the league. They tried to put on a nice event and it didn’t work out.” Legler added T'Wolves coach Rick Adelman could be the "only guy that might be happy," as last night's game was rescheduled for Target Center (“NBA Tonight,” ESPN2, 12/4).
KEEP GOING ABROAD: ESPN.com's Marc Stein writes despite last night's mishap, he remains "in favor of more regular-season games abroad, not less." Stein: "The NBA happily imports nearly 100 players per season from every corner of the globe. It's only fair that the league tries to export a taste of its game, played at the most meaningful level possible, to as many of those countries as possible ... even if we all understand that commercial motivations play a far bigger role in the NBA’s desire to schedule these trips than any romantic notions of giving back." While there are "too many logistical/financial/player-reluctance obstacles to ever allow for the league’s long-held dream of expanding to Europe," there is no reason the league "can't spare 3-5 of the 1,230 regular-season dates played annually on North American soil for international dispatch on top of the various preseason trips requiring passports every October" (ESPN.com, 12/5).