LONDON (Reuters) - Paris will stage its first regular-season NBA game next January when Charlotte Hornets face Milwaukee Bucks, organizers confirmed on Thursday.
The announcement looks almost certain to end London’s nine-year run as host city for the NBA’s European game — the most recent of which was in January when New York Knicks lost to the Washington Wizards in front of a sell-out O2 Arena crowd.
All 19,000 tickets for that game were snapped up in an hour, with fans from 39 nations attending.
The Paris match, which will be 10 years after the last NBA pre-season game was staged there, will take place at the revamped AccorHotels Arena in Bercy on Jan. 24.
Berlin had also been a option.
“Our NBA Paris Game will showcase the continued global growth of basketball in one of the world’s greatest cities,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
“With France leading a record number of players from Europe in the league, we look forward to bringing together basketball fans from across the continent for the NBA’s first regular-season game in Paris.”
The NBA has a large following in France with the opening-night rosters for the 2018-19 featuring nine French players, more than any European country for the 12th consecutive season.
Paris has hosted nine pre-season NBA games, one of which featured the Hornets against the Golden State Warriors in 1994.
The Hornets have two French players on their roster — four-time NBA champion Tony Parker, and Nicolas Batum.
The Bucks will be playing their first game in France, although they played a regular-season game in London in 2015.
While it appears bad news for London, the NBA have explored the possibility of more than one regular-season game in Europe.
Speaking in London earlier this year, the NBA’s Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum told reporters: “It’s been one (regular season game) per year. I definitely think there’s room for more than that. We will have to figure out what that optimum number is, whether that’s two or three.
“I don’t think there’s any potential limit as long as it makes sense from a business standpoint.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar