MEXICO CITY – Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said on Tuesday that the two regular season games the U.S. National Basketball Association will play in the city this week “allow me to dream” of the capital having its own pro basketball team.
“They are regular season games that give them points and the teams will come here to give their maximum effort,” said Mancera at the presentation of the NBA Global Games at City Hall.
The Phoenix Suns will be the “local” team and face off against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 12 and on Saturday the 14th the Suns will play the San Antonio Spurs at the Mexico City Arena, with seating for 22,000 fans.
Mancera said that having two games and three NBA teams on hand “lets me dream farther” and ask if Mexico City might have its own NBA squad.
He said that only Mexico City and London have landed NBA matchups and other activities like the ones here this week, alluding to the other events to be held for fans surrounding the games.
The mayor emphasized that basketball is one of the sports that has increased its presence the most so far during his 2012-2018 mandate, in addition to marathon racing and auto racing such as Formula One and Formula E.
He said that the Mexico City marathon had jumped from 300th place on the international footracing circuit to one of the 10 most important races in the world and that the National Football League last November held a regular season game at the capital’s Azteca Stadium.
Calling Mexico City the capital of sports, Mancera said that now the city only needs a triathlon, but he added jokingly that there was not much chance of that.
The NBA’s top official in Mexico, Raul Zarraga, emphasized that the U.S. league has had an ongoing presence in the country for 25 years but that having three teams come here to play two games is unprecedented.
“We’ve been doing NBA games in Mexico for 25 years; this doesn’t happen in any other country in the world outside the U.S. and Canada,” he said.
He emphasized that basketball is the second-most popular sport in Mexico after soccer and there are more courts on which to play it than any other sport.
Zarraga said that to support the upcoming pair of NBA games, the Mexico City government has prepared activities such as participatory tournaments and a basketball sculpture exhibition on the downtown Paseo de la Reforma.