Phoenix Suns, city and state officials see great opportunity in Mexico City games
When people think of sports in Mexico, they usually think about soccer, but the Phoenix Suns are hoping to grow the game of basketball with the Mexican people.
On Wednesday, the team announced it will have two consecutive games in Mexico City in January 2017 and be the host team. The first game will be versus the Dallas Mavericks on January 12th and the second will be against San Antonio on January 14th. They are the NBA’s first back-to-back international games.
“We have an incredibly loyal Hispanic fanbase here in Arizona and the vast majority of that is of Mexican descent,” Suns President Jason Rowley said. “We are extremely excited to continue building our connection with the fan base both here in Arizona, regionally and in Mexico and, to simply say it, we want to be the NBA team of Mexico.”
The games in Mexico will mark the 25th anniversary of the NBA Global Games in Mexico City. It will be the third time the team will visit the country, with the previous two taking place in 1996 and 2009 preseason.
The city of Phoenix also wants to take advantage of the games.
“Phoenix has worked hard to strengthen our economic ties to Mexico,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “We are trying to build an export-based economy and now we can add basketball to our list of great exports. The economic futures of Mexico and Arizona are completely intertwined. So, It makes sense that our great franchise, the Suns, would be an NBA ambassador to Mexico.”
According to the Department of Commerce, the state of Arizona’s largest market in 2015 was Mexico, exporting $9.2 billion worth of goods.
Though the team and city see the two-game series in Mexico as an economic opportunity, the trip means much more to Suns head coach Earl Watson. His grandfather was from Guadalajara, immigrated to United States where he landed in Texas and married Watson’s grandmother. Watson said his mother instilled in him pride for having Mexican heritage and will bring her along for the trip as it will coincide with her birthday, January 8th.
“My mom constantly told stories about my grandfather,” Watson said. “ I never had a chance to meet him but I will always carry his pride. My mom raised me in a Mexican culture, Mexican heritage and she always pushed the fact that community is always first.”
By John Alvarado, Cronkite News