Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Vitoria-Gasteiz. It is always a great feeling to officially tip-off the moment that we have been waiting for since all teams started playing back in October. But it is also a special feeling to do this here in Vitoria-Gasteiz because this city has basketball in its blood and has been waiting for this moment for very long.
I am sure very few people know that 19 years ago, Vitoria-Gasteiz was awarded to organize this event, but many things happened during that summer of 2000 and a long wait started since then. But Baskonia and the local authorities kept on making sure that everything was in place to bring the Final Four to their home and after 19 years they made it happen and now Vitoria-Gasteiz is the European basketball capital.
So we want to express to the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the region of Alava and the Basque Country, to Baskonia, to all of you thank you for hosting us in your home with such great hospitality.
But before we look at what is waiting for us this long weekend, allow me to take a look back to the road that has taken us here.
It has been an amazing seven months since the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season kicked off. We have witnessed one of the most thrilling seasons that one can remember in European basketball, ever. We've had incredible games, outstanding player performances, coaching masterclasses,
and seven teams in an unpredictable battle to access the playoffs spots.
This talks about the hunger of our teams, of our players, about the importance of every game, of every minute, and about the competitive balance that we are enjoying, especially since the round-robin season was implemented three seasons ago.
We know we are backed by the response of our fans. And fans are always honest. They give clear responses with their behavior and with their voice.
You only have to listen to them and we do. Over 2,100,000 fans have come to our arenas to enjoy our games this season. Our broadcasting partners have delivered the games to almost 200 countries and territories in every continent with millions watching globally. Our digital platforms have delivered record-breaking figures in every single metric. But we are not satisfied. This real response by our fans is taken with big responsibility and interpreted as a challenge that we are given to make it even better.
It is our duty to keep on finding ways to deliver more and better to our fans, staying curious, humble and ambitious to innovate. It is also our duty, together with our partner IMG, to continue growing the business for our clubs and our partners. European basketball has never been in a better position with the Euroleague Basketball revenues growing 2.4 times in the last three seasons. It means we have become a safe, trustful and powerful platform for broadcasting and commercial partners to reach a truly passionate and engaged community.
And if we look at the future, we are happy to be welcoming two new teams in the league, ASVEL Villeurbanne and Bayern Munich. Two teams that will expand the reach of the competition to new territories and audiences, and I am sure will deliver exciting moments and stories on the court next season.
Whether we talk sports or business, our real objective remains the same, the fans. And it is for the fans that we have prepared an amazing celebration here in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Non-stop activities across the city and of course four incredible basketball games at the Fernando Buesa Arena.
We will have the reigning champion, two other teams repeating their last year’s presence and an incredible comeback. So we have all the ingredients for witnessing an unforgettable Final Four and if there is something certain, that is that we can expect to see BASKETBALL in capitals, at its highest level.
But we will have more: We will have many activities for our fans here in our Fan Zone, Euroleague Basketball Academy games with local schools, a new edition of our amazing Adidas Next Generation Tournament and we will see our players helping our communities with our One Team program.
And now it is time. I want to thank our clubs, players, coaches and referees for the great moments they delivered to all of us this season, also to all our legends and ambassadors who have joined us here in this basketball celebration and help us every day.
We hope you will enjoy the 2019 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four and we wish the best of luck to Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid.