MANCHESTER, United Kingdom – As part of NBA Basketball Week, Manchester City Council, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and USA Basketball announced today a multiyear partnership that will give basketball fans in the city of Manchester the opportunity to attend live NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and USA Basketball men’s and women’s national teams games.
The games will all be played at the 18,100-seat Manchester Evening News Arena (MEN) starting on May 29 with “WNBA Live – Manchester 2011,” featuring the Atlanta Dream who played in the 2010 WNBA Finals. This will mark the first time a WNBA team has played in Europe, and the second international game in the league’s 15 year history (2004, Monterrey, Mexico). The Dream’s opponent will be announced at a later date.
The Atlanta Dream – the WNBA’s most recent expansion team – has made the Playoffs the past two seasons and reached the WNBA Finals in only its third year in the league. The WNBA’s top scoring team last year (95.5 ppg), the Dream were led by a trio of Angel McCoughtry (2009 Rookie of the Year), Iziane Castro Marques and Sancho Lyttle.
As part of the partnership, the USA Basketball men’s and women’s national teams – both of which won gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – will each play a Global Community Cup tour game in July 2012 at the MEN in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics against opponents to be announced.
The first-ever NBA preseason game to be played in the UK outside of London will take place in the autumn of 2013. The teams will be announced at a later date. The NBA has played preseason games in London for four consecutive seasons at The O2 as part of NBA Europe Live presented by EA SPORTS. Each game in London sold out, including the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves in October 2010, which sold out in a record time. The league will stage NBA Games – London 2011 presented by Thomson Sport featuring the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors playing the league’s first regular-season games in Europe at The O2 on March 4 and 5.
“We are delighted to bring NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball games to the internationally renowned sports city of Manchester. This comprehensive schedule of premier basketball events will help grow the sport for years to come,” said NBA Europe Senior Vice President Sophie Goldschmidt. “This partnership shows our ongoing commitment to deepen basketball’s footprint in the country.”
“Manchester has a rich sporting heritage, so it is fitting to be welcoming the NBA to the City for this ground breaking series of events,” said Councillor Michael Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Sport. “The matches will fit into our varied and innovative sports events calendar and we are sure that they will not only bring thousands of visitors to the City and create huge media interest, but will also inspire Mancunians to participate, officiate, spectate and volunteer in their chosen sports.”
Fans in Manchester will be able to get a taste of the NBA during NBA Basketball Week, a series of free events including coaching clinics, Sprite 3-on-3 competitions, NBA Cares Clinics and pop-up basketball events. NBA Basketball Week will take place in five UK cities between Feb. 25 and March 6 in the lead-up to NBA Games – London 2011 presented by Thomson Sport at The 02 Arena in London.
The NBA’s history in the UK dates back to 1993 when the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic were the first NBA teams to play in the country at London’s Wembley Stadium. Following NBA Games – London 2011 presented by Thomson Sport, 10 NBA teams will have played a total of eight games in the country. In 2007, the league opened its office in London which serves as its European headquarters and leads its grassroots and business development efforts throughout the region. The NBA’s increasing presence in the UK has helped basketball participation in the country double over the past four years with the sport reaching new levels of popularity.
About the Manchester City Council
As partner to the NBA and host of this series of games, Manchester continues to strengthen its impressive reputation for successfully staging major international sports events that bring long-term social and economic benefits to the City and its residents. Manchester’s excellent range of accessible sports venues and facilities, combined with its school and community sports development programmes provide the springboard for sporting stars of the future and events such as these play a key role in the creation of sporting opportunities across the city. Manchester will continue to host major events that deliver real benefits to local people whilst also showcasing the city both as a vibrant place of national and international significance and as a global sporting hub. For more information on Manchester’s sports events programme visit www.manchesterworldsport.com