NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said the league is open to playing a regular-season game at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home of soccer powerhouse Real Madrid.
The NBA has never played an overseas game in an outdoor soccer stadium, and Tatum’s remarks were made after the Dallas Mavericks‘ preseason loss to Real Madrid Baloncesto at the WiZink Center in Madrid on Tuesday.
The WiZink Center can accommodate just over 17,000 spectators for basketball, while the Bernabéu holds up to 85,000 fans for soccer.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see the new Bernabéu, and it’s incredible what they’ve done there,” Tatum told reporters Tuesday in Madrid. “I’ve seen the system with which they raise and lower the grass. It will be a world-class stadium. If the circumstances are right, we would love to play there.
“… It also counts that it is a big market with an important tradition, like France, where the [Olympic] Games are going to be played next year,” Tatum said. “There are other markets that we look at; Germany, Spain, Italy are important markets for us. Some of them are conditioned by the fact that they don’t have these facilities, although there are new projects. We are open to holding games elsewhere.”
Tatum said the league would need “a world-class pavilion” that meets “certain standards,” citing London as the top example in Europe.
Tuesday’s preseason NBA game was the first in the Spanish capital since 2016, when Luka Doncic and Real Madrid hosted — and beat — the Oklahoma City Thunder. Doncic also played for Madrid against the Boston Celtics the year before.
The game was the NBA’s eighth in the Spanish capital and 20th in Spain, coming 35 years after an NBA team first played in the country in 1988.