A city that began the century by establishing a record for attendance at a European basketball game – Cologne, Germany – will start the next decade as a first-time host of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four.
Germany's fourth-largest city by population will become the epicenter of international basketball from May 22 to 24, 2020, and Lanxess Arena, which has been hosting major sports events for 21 years, is the stage on which a new EuroLeague champion will be crowned.
On April 7, 2000, two years after opening its doors, a German League game played at the arena between Telekom Baskets Bonn and ALBA Berlin drew 18,518 spectators – at the time a European record for indoor games, and still the all-time highest attendance in German basketball.
Cologne joins two-time host Berlin, which did the honors in 2009 and 2016, as the second German city to host the event this century. Cologne becomes the fourth city without a local Euroleague Basketball club to host a Final Four this century. The 2020 Final Four will culminate a season in which the EuroLeague will expand its list of participating teams from 16 to 18, with two German teams, ALBA Berlin and FC Bayern Munich, highlighting the importance of Germany as a strategic market for Euroleague Basketball.
"To open a new decade dedicated to bringing the EuroLeague to new fans, we are proud to choose Cologne as our next Final Four host," Jordi Bertomeu, President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball, said. "After Prague in 2006, Paris in 2010 and London in 2013, we again bring the continent's biggest basketball event to a new place where our sport has thrived so that fans there can see the best basketball in Europe where they live. At the same time, we could not have chosen a better arena or a more vibrant, welcoming city for the many fans who will travel to the Final Four from around the world."
As the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, the biggest state in Germany by far, with 18 million inhabitants, Cologne is uniquely qualified to meet the challenge of taking the Final Four to new heights. From its world-famous cathedral to its reputation for tolerance and good times, Cologne has been a magnet for diverse groups of visitors. Likewise, Lanxess Arena has put on numerous global-scale sports such as the 2019 World Men's Handball Championship and the 2001 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. Lanxess Arena also hosted NBA Europe Live in 2006, which featured that year's EuroLeague champion, CSKA Moscow, and runner-up Maccabi Tel Aviv against the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns of the NBA.
Lanxess Arena has a capacity of more than 18,000 seated spectators that will be adapted to the Final Four configuration. Lanxess led the ticket sales ranking for arena venues worldwide with almost 700,000 sold during the first half of 2019.
"The confirmation for the Final Four of the EuroLeague in 2020 is fantastic!" Henriette Reker, Lord Mayor of Cologne, said. "Handball players already feel at home in Cologne and in Lanxess Arena. And, surely, we can also win over the players and friends of basketball with our professional event hosting, full service and the unrivalled enthusiasm of the people living in Cologne. I am certain: Cologne can also do basketball!"
Over the last two decades, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four has established itself as a can't-miss event on the global sports calendar, one that surpasses even the excitement of the four do-or-die games that decide the continental champion. Each Final Four is a celebration that fills the streets of the host city with countless ways to enjoy the game, while at the same time spreading goodwill through corporate social responsibility events and by linking generations of basketball lovers from school children to legendary players. All of that positive energy will build up over the course of the 2019-20 season, as every ball that bounces takes fans another step closer to the ultimate drama – the 2020 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Cologne!