There’s nothing like a perfectly fitting analogy. The managing director of the Bundesliga basketball team Alba Berlin noticed one of these during his most recent visit to a restaurant: “I was strongly advised to reserve a table. But in the end we were all alone in the shop. Instead, a delivery service came every 30 seconds to take the food to the people’s home, ”said Marco Baldi on Tuesday on the occasion of the approaching Bundesliga start. What does that have to do with basketball? Well, just like in the restaurants, after the lockdown, people are actually allowed to go back to the country’s sports arenas. But football, handball and ice hockey have already shown that people – at least not yet – are not coming back as they were before the pandemic.
“Habits have spread and nobody knows whether they will develop backwards,” said Baldi, pointing out that the pay TV broadcaster, which broadcasts all Bundesliga games live, recently had double-digit subscription growth rates, very similar to the increase for food delivery services in Corona times. “It is possible that these subscribers also include viewers who had previously come to us in the hall. Nobody knows whether they will stay on the couch or find their way back to our ‘restaurant’ at some point, ”Baldi did not want to venture into any prognosis. “But we hope that people will soon realize what it means to be in the arena with other fans. And the better our performance, the more likely it is for you to itch again. “
So even after the past season, which was almost completely played in front of empty stands, the audience question remains the most urgent in the basketball Bundesliga, which will start its new season this Thursday with the game between Alba Berlin and the Baskets from Bonn . It was only on Monday that Alba received confirmation that the club could use half of its home arena with its hygiene concept. Baldi accepts this without grumbling. In contrast to some other Bundesliga clubs. The Baskets Oldenburg demand from Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil full utilization of vaccinated and convalescent people and are even considering a lawsuit if this is not implemented. Because clubs in other federal states are allowed to fill their halls more, one feared “a distortion of competition, against which we would also take legal action,” it said in an open letter from Oldenburg.
Although Alba Berlin’s income is usually 40 percent dependent on the sale of tickets and catering to spectators, there are no threats to the Senate from the German champions. However, part of the truth is that Alba almost never filled its 14,000-seat hall, even before the pandemic. The club has no chance of a boom as a result of the last two championship titles won. The Berliners are nevertheless honest enough not to advertise with a guarantee for the next coup. In the meantime, the budget of the eternal rival from Munich is said to be three times as high as that of Alba.
The Bavarians are helped by the fact that they have now been equipped with the A-license of the Euroleague and that they will thus also increasingly participate in the lush income from the sale of broadcast and marketing rights in the largest European league. Alba will get this chance in two years at the earliest. Until then, Berlin will at least enjoy a kind of applicant status and no longer have to qualify for the Euroleague every year.
In terms of sport, Alba is now facing a small upheaval, because the four-year successful era under coaching legend Aito Garcia Reneses has come to an end. The 74-year-old Spaniard has made way for his compatriot Israel Gonzalez, who as head coach can now prove for the first time how much he has learned from his mentor as an assistant. After all, the team knows him, which has only had to cope with a few departures, albeit two very well-known ones with Peyton Siva and Niels Giffey. “Of course, things will change now, but we’re going back to the fast basketball that we played in the first two years under Aito,” said the new captain Luke Sikma, describing the first noticeable changes.
The preparation for the season offered little opportunity to import new systems; instead, it was shaped by the plugging of holes. In the meantime, five players were injured, all in the center position. So people like Sikma or the 18-year-old young player Christoph Tilly have to step in. The successful integration of talents from their own youth had become a trademark of successful Berliners in recent years. “And we will continue on this path. Even if it won’t work every year, ”Managing Director Marco Baldi preferred to stack low. »Other top teams rely on experience. We’re just building it up. But we have learned that at the end of the season we will play our best basketball with it. ”He’s hoping that this time too. And that Alba’s fans have got up from the couch by then.