Like several sports entities in Mexico and other countries, the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP) is taking 2023 to get closer and closer to its characteristics before the pandemic. To achieve this, it announced several changes, although the most prominent is the increase of its teams and the recovery of its income.

The LNBP presented a virtual press conference on August 14, four days before the start of the 2023 season, where it announced these modifications and others both in the voice of its president, Sergio Gánem, and its general commissioner, Alonso Izaguirre.

“The 2023 men’s season is not only the beginning, but the continuity of the growth and recovery of the teams after the most critical stage of the Covid pandemic ended,” said Gánem at the beginning of the conference and immediately addressed the expansion of the teams.

In 2023, the LNBP will have 14, three more than last year: Halcones Rojos del Puerto de Veracruz, Santos de San Luis Potosí and Freseros de Irapuato. These join the Astros de Jalisco, Dorados de Chihuahua, Fuerza Regia, Libertadores de Querétaro, Mineros de Zacatecas, Plateros de Fresnillo, Soles de Mexicali, Halcones de Xalapa, Correcaminos de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, Panteras de Aguascalientes and Abejas de León, the current champions.

Mexico City has not appeared on the LNBP map since the 2019-20 season when the Capitanes (now competing in the NBA G-League) were there. Four championships will be held without capital participation, despite the fact that in the conference at the beginning of the 2022 campaign, Sergio Gánem said that “the CDMX is reactivated yes or yes in 2023”.

According to the directors, the ideal of LNBP teams is 16, which they aspire to have from the 2024 season in both the men’s and women’s branches. The peak was in 2019-20 when they had 18 in the men’s circuit, but in 2020, with the arrival of the pandemic, the figure fell to 12.

“We want an ideal number of 16 teams. We have several requests, not all pull, we are doing a reengineering of what is the duty to be for the league and until today the consensus is that we have at least 16 to be able to be even numbers with the zones. I speak punctually of the CDMX team for 2024 and one more in the southeast, with which we are reactivating details to be able to give news about them in this second half of the year, “said the president of the LNBP.

The vision of the league is to have sustainable teams in the long term and that does not disappear in a couple of seasons, so the requirements for them to be accepted include issues of viability, transparency and connectivity, Sergio Gánem explained to El Economista.

“The league has a checklist with requirements on issues of territory, population, connectivity, synergies with local venues, administrative structure, see who are or will be the owners, and relationship with authorities in the medium and long term, so we have decided that, although it goes a little more slowly, we want to bring projects that are not dazzling and that after two or three years fall. December 2024 marks the end of my second term as president and we want to leave the legacy of the strength of the league.”

Data recovered by this newspaper indicate that the annual operating expense for an LNBP franchise is between 12 and 14 million pesos. In recent years, some teams that have had to be dropped are the Aguacateros de Michoacán and Leñadores de Durango, without specifying their reasons.

Economic outlook and synergy with Spain
Continuing on financial issues, the president of the LNBP assured this newspaper that in the 2022 season, they recovered 40% of income losses they had had in 2020 and 2021 (even reaching 50%) due to the pandemic, which prevented them from having the full capacity and, above all, redoubled expenses in terms of protection protocols. They see an encouraging outlook in 2023 as well.

“This year we recovered sponsorships and grew them, we no longer had the extra cost that involved us operating with the Covid, and now we are in very good stability, in addition to the fact that in 2024 a couple of very important brands will be added that we are already negotiating and that I can not expose due to confidentiality contracts.

“When my term ends in 2024 we want to leave a solid league in the economy, that has solvency to make new projects. In 2022 that 40% of the income losses of 2021 were recovered and in 2023 we already put much more money into it than last year. It is a blessing to have the brands and the compliance of the teams in the contributions of the quotas they make. Today, as never before, the teams are up to date and that is also very important,” said Sergio Gánem.

The 2023 season will begin on August 18 and end, tentatively, on December 19. The playoffs will be played from November 9 and in the middle of the season, the Copa Valúe will debut replacing the All-Star Game.

The Copa Valúe arises as a proposal as a result of the synergy that has strengthened the LNBP with the ACB League of Spain. It is a mid-season tournament (from September 25 to October 1) in which the top eight of the table at that time will participate in quarterfinals and a single match, a format similar to the Spanish Copa del Rey.

Thus, Valúe and Caliente MX join as sponsors of the LNBP, which also has Molten, Sisnova and Punto CHG. The first edition of the Copa Valúe will be held in Chihuahua and the facilities of the Dorados club will be used.

Other projects of the link of the LNBP with the ACB League are exhibition matches against Spanish teams in Mexican territory, training for managers of both the league and the clubs, the creation of a development championship and copy its business model, although they did not give more details on these points.

Highlights of the LNBP 2023
Start: August 18
Regular phase: from August 18 to November 4
Copa Valúe (instead of All-Star Game): September 25 to October 1
Playoffs: November 9 to December 19
Zone ends: from November 23 to December 5
LNBP Final: from 8 to 19 December

Participating teams of the National Professional Basketball League
Leon Bees (reigning champion)
Astros of Jalisco
Dorados de Chihuahua
Fuerza Regia
Liberators of Querétaro
Miners of Zacatecas
Fresnillo silversmiths
Suns of Mexicali
Xalapa Falcons
Roadrunners of the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas
Panthers of Aguascalientes

Red Falcons of the Port of Veracruz
Saints of San Luis Potosi
Strawberries of Irapuato