French skeptical of NBA's European plans
Feb 14, 2008 - 11:04 AM
By Steve Douglas Special to PA SportsTicker
PARIS (Ticker) - Infrastructure problems would be the main stumbling point to any prospective plan to create an NBA franchise in France, according to the French Basketball Federation (FFBB).
SI.com on Thursday reported that NBA commissioner David Stern is contemplating a plan to create as many as five franchises as part of a full-scale expansion into Europe over the next decade.
The proposals are understood to include the formation of a European division, with the five franchises in major markets playing a full 82-game schedule and competing for the NBA championship.
France, and most likely its capital city Paris, could be one of the places targeted by the NBA.
But Julien Guerineau, who works for the FFBB as an editor of its publication 'Basketball Magazine', believes infrastructure issues would have to be overcome if the idea was to even get off the ground.
"The answer is always the same when this question comes up," Guerineau told PA SportsTicker. "It is not a question of distance or anything like that. It is that there are no arenas.
"The biggest we have is in Bercy (Paris) and that has 15,000 seats. In France, we have a lot of work to do to find places to play in."
While France does have plans to build new arenas in the near future, Guerineau believes the country is trailing in the wake of its European neighbors
"We are bidding for the World Championships in 2014 and we would like to use this opportunity to build a new place," he added. "There is a project going on for the building of a stadium in Lyon.
"But still the biggest place is Bercy. In other countries, there are NBA arenas in London and Berlin. They would be more suitable."
According to the SI.com report, Stern will announce the NBA's stance during a news conference on Saturday, the day before the All-Star Game in New Orleans.
Guerineau believes the FFBB would be willing to talk to NBA officials, but is pessimistic about whether the proposals will bear fruit.
"David Stern does this once a year, and each time it is in a press conference before the All-Star Game," he added.
"People have talked about this project for the past 10 years but nothing has happened."