The 2011-12 German BBL season is about to tip off and heinnews figured it was exactly the time to talk to league CEO Jan Pommer about the expectations of the season; Bayern Munich economic impact on the league; the possibility of an average attendance of 5,000; why Bayern’s wild card for the Eurocup is good for all – including the Euroleague; and how far along the BBL is in their goal of becoming the top domestic league in Europe by 2020.

heinnews: We are at the Champions Cup and the season tips off on Monday. What do you think about the up-coming season with expectations of the “best Bundesliga season of all time”?

Pommer: I think we will see the best BBL season of all time. We will experience an exciting season. We have two very special promoted teams. Würzburg – or Dirk Nowitzki-town if you want to call it that – have a very solid budget for a promoted team and are back again (for the first time since 2005). And of course FC Bayern Munich is an extraordinary promoted team – which embodies the strongest brand in German sports. They feel it’s their duty – and are almost condemned – to win. Everyone has an opinion about them – some a negative one but many a positive one. And that will strengthen us a league and push us forward. So I am very exciting about the up-coming season.

heinnews: One of the biggest issues is Bayern. Last week they opened their new home, the Audi Dome, and drew a crowd of 6,100 in the first friendly game. How much of a push do you expect from Bayern?

Pommer: It will without a doubt improve the level of the league. It will help with the television negotiations because our product is just that much more attractive. It will help us with our negotiations with sponsors because people realize that the value of the league has increased. And the opposing teams will fill their gyms for the games against Bayern Munich. So this will really give a big push.

heinnews: How much influence has Bayern already had regarding sponsors? And has there been the impact already or is it on the way still?

Pommer: I sense that already now. And I believe it will only increase. The presence of FC Bayern shows us evidence that it’s true what we have been saying: that we are a league on the rise; that we are an exciting league; the competition is close; that we have good spectator numbers; that we have excellent arenas; and that we are on a good way to becoming the strongest domestic league in Europe in 2020. And the sponsors realize that as well. That there is another strong interest magnate with FC Bayern.

heinnews: You mentioned the number of spectators. For the first time last season, the average attendance eclipsed the 4,000 mark. With promoted side Bayern moving into an arena with 6,700 spectators and Ulm opening a new arena and other teams playing in slightly bigger venues, could the BBL actually see an average of 5,000 for the coming season?

Pommer: No, that would be too much. We had a capacity of 82 percent last season. So, 5,000 would too much. But we will very clearly achieve another attendance record at the end of this season.

heinnews: So you can’t even dream about that? What about getting out the calculator and taking away the two relegated teams and adding Bayern and everything else. Seems like there might be a shot at 5,000.

Pommer: That is another goal. But a 20 percent increase would be much too ambitious.

heinnews: Sorry about asking another question about Bayern, but I have been wondering for a couple months now what the BBL thinks about Munich being given a wild card for the regular season of the Eurocup as a promoted club. Of course it’s nice to have another German club playing internationally, but doesn’t that give a bad sign to the rest of the teams in the league?

Pommer: Of course, other teams will be passed by, but we are still very happy about it because it was a wild card offer to FC Bayern, and not a wild card offer to the German league with the request to utilize it meaningfully. And we did our best to allow that to happen. And if I may say so, the Euroleague and its board acted correctly because they also need strong brands. And bringing in FC Bayern is also a very good news for the Euroleague and for the Eurocup. So therefore I think everyone did everything correctly. And I think it’s a mistake for others to think that the offer would have been available to them.

heinnews: What is the next goal – or other mid-term goals – along the way to the big goal for 2020?

Pommer: We have to make sure that we expand our Social Media area. We are doing well but there is room to improve. We want to act on our own part that we have more moving pictures from the 18 clubs and the league available for the fans. There is an extremely large interest in that regard. That will be one of our main tasks in the coming months. We will also fight that we have a better television contract and present more basketball. Those are the goals for this season.

heinnews: Last question is regarding the television contract. What is the latest on the television negotiations and when do you hope to have something in place for after the current deal ends at the end of this season?

Pommer: The start of talks will be next week. I don’t want to say when we will finish the talks. But we want to have the impression that we have negotiated the best-possible contract. Of course I want to have something in place within the next half year and it doesn’t drag out too long.

heinnews: Okay, thank you very much and hope you enjoy the game tonight and we’ll see you in the future.

Pommer: Of course, thank you as well.

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