A basketball capital like few on the planet will soon seize the global spotlight in its favorite sport after Euroleague Basketball announced on Wednesday that the 2018 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four will take place at the Kombank Arena in Belgrade, Serbia!
The decision marks the first time that Belgrade will host a Final Four to crown Europe's club champion in what will be the 30-year-history of the event.
Kombank Arena is well known to fans far and wide as the venue that has attracted to EuroLeague games over the last decade some of the biggest and liveliest crowds in basketball history. It is currently the home court of EuroLeague club Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade.
Kombank, which opened in 2004, seats 18,400 fans for basketball, making it one of the largest Final Four venues ever, too. Kombank previously hosted the 2005 EuroBasket championship for men's national teams, among other major basketball events.
"Belgrade has given so much to our sport that the chance to see the 2018 Final Four there is sure to make the Serbian capital an instant destination for all true international basketball fans," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, said. "The fans there live and breathe basketball with the same passion that flows through every Final Four, making Belgrade and this event a perfect match. Everybody who loves basketball will be looking forward with great anticipation to the 2018 Final Four."
Belgrade is birthplace to many historic clubs, including Crvena Zvezda and the only continental champion from Serbia to date, Partizan. The city will witness European club basketball's main event for the first time since previously hosting a one-day continental final almost four decades ago, when Maccabi Tel Aviv won its first EuroLeague title there in 1977.
As the breeding ground for countless great EuroLeague players and coaches over the years, Belgrade has a long basketball tradition that makes it a unique place to bring together generations of stars who have given Serbia an impact on modern world basketball well beyond what the country's size and population would indicate.
The naming of Belgrade as the 2018 Final Four host follows the designation of Istanbul, Turkey in the same role for the culmination of the current 2016-17 season.
Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO
"It's our pleasure to announce that the 2018 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four of 2018 will take place in Kombank Arena, here in Belgrade. The most well-known secret here the last few weeks.
"I want to say that we have been under nice pressure for a long time now. Back to 2002, that was the first time, it was Vlado Stankovic, who mentioned Belgrade as the destination. The last time it was Milos Teodosic a few weeks ago in a corridor in China. Since then, many people came to us and insisted to bring the Final Four to Belgrade because you have so many ambassadors of basketball in Europe and over the world.
"We came here and we are proud to make this announcement. Everything in life needs the right time and right partners. And we are very happy to say that 2018 is the right time, for different reasons that are too long to explain, but it's much easier to explain that we found finally the right partner. From the club, Crvena Zvezda and its president Mister Covic, they were helping us from the first minute, including the interest that the prime minister showed many times. We also found a strong commitment, probably the strongest we never had from a city, from the Belgrade mayor, Mr. Mali. Because thanks to him and his team and the work they did together the last month, we managed to bring the Final Four here after almost 14 years.
"It's also nice for us to have the opportunity to make this special announcement in a very special season for us, when for the first time ever in European basketball history we launched the concept of the European league. So for us it's very important and very significant to have this coincidence.
"You know what the Final Four is. It has become the showcase for European basketball after many years, thanks to the good job that our clubs did during these 15 or 16 years. It is the moment in which the city can get the maximum visibility. Just as an example, last year in Berlin, the city was more than 600 hours on TV in more than 200 countries. That's the visibility of the event. Also, many things are happening around the event, not just the games that will happen in the magnificent Kombank Arena. We have more. The Final Four tries to attract not only those who can come to the games - which unfortunately brings some restrictions with it, even if Kombank Arena will allow us to have more spectators than in other venues - but we also want to open the event to the citzens of Belgrade, with the passion of this city and this country for basketball. So together with the municipality we are working to prepare other places in the city on which the fans will have the chance to enjoy the event and participate in it. Because the Final Four is not only for the players, the clubs or the fortunate 18,000 spectators that will fill the Kombank Arena. This is about sharing the best event we can deliver to our fans with the people in Belgrade.
"I have to mention also that one of our more beloved projects, the ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT, of which this city and its team have been a veryimportant part in the past. I am sure it will be the best ones ever.
"I invite you all to the party we will have in May 2018, and I want to finish by insisting on the gratitude to the mayor of the city because of his commitment and determination towards the project. I have to congratulate Mr. Mali because he achieved what many people wanted."
Sinisa Mali, Mayor of Belgrade
"It is big and important news for basketball fans and all citizens in Serbia that Belgrade will be the host of 2018 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. I am probably the proudest mayor in all of Europe, because the eyes of European basketball are on Belgrade right now. The four best teams in 2018 will battle for the continental title here in Belgrade. That completely fits into our strategy, our goal and our promise to make Belgrade a capitol of sports in Europe and in the region. Many tried before us, but we finally managed to bring the EuroLeague Final Four to Belgrade, and that is important news for all of us. I met Mr. Bertomeu for the first time in 2014, and that's when we first talked about Belgrade becoming a candidate to host the Final Four. Realizing that the idea was not easy, this project would not have happened without the support of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. So it is a success for all of us, and the Serbian government and City of Belgrade we will organize this event together, to benefit all the citizens of Belgrade and Serbia. Serbia is a land of basketball. Belgrade is a basketball city, and I will promise Mr. Bertomeu that we will be the best hosts in the history of the Final Four. I would like to thank all involved who helped bring the Final Four to Belgrade, and thank Mr. Bertomeu for having confidence in us to organize this event. It will be a pleasure to welcome a big number of fans in our city, which will be an opportunity for great promotion of Belgrade and Serbia."