Euroleague CEO visits Tel Aviv [pg. 12]

Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu landed in Israel on Wednesday and visited Nokia Arena to announce plans to expand the Euroleague's empire, including adding markets and building new arenas by the 2008-2009 season. Bertomeu will also attend Thursday's Top 16 game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid. "The Euroleague needs to have more visibility," Bertomeu said. "We can have more visibility through our games on TV. Right now we are in more than 50 countries on three different continents. We want to increase that. "Our goal is to be present in the five [major] continents and, if possible, in 70-75 countries before the Final Four in Prague. I understand this is a very ambitious goal. Our commitment is trying to increase the presence of Euroleague around the world." Bertomeu spoke about how he is, and plans to continue, working with the NBA to garner international attention for Euroleague. He said he is trying to organize more friendly games, like the ones Maccabi Tel Aviv had with the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic last October, and is looking to extend his agreement with the NBA to have Euroleague games broadcast in NBA markets. Bertomeu came to Nokia Arena to view the progress of the on-going renovations. People from the league office are going to each Euroleague city and surveying the arenas to determine how and when renovations on existing arenas and the building of new ones will be able to get underway, he said. "It's one of our goals to have arenas that the level of the competition deserves," Bertomeu said. "Maccabi is leading this movement to the building of new arenas. "I am more than happy to say that the reaction from the clubs and the cities is that they are going to build new arenas or rebuild the ones they already have. That will happen in Barcelona, it's already happened in Tel Aviv." Bertomeu also spoke about the upcoming Final Four in Prague and how it is going to be a new experience for Euroleague, because there is not a team in the league that plays there, making it a true neutral site. Tickets have been selling at a rapid pace in Israel, Bertomeu said. "We've already sold more than 60 percent of the tickets," he said. "Israel is leading the list of the countries that is buying tickets, with 22% of all tickets sold."