A reggaeton song by Puerto Rican artist Daddy Yankee is blasting through the Arena Ciudad de México with the lights out while fans wave their cell phones and dance to the rhythm of the music.
Then comes a drumbeat followed by a loud “Ca-pi-ta-nes, Ca-pi-ta-nes” chant.
Welcome to NBA G League action in Mexico City. And if fans get their wish, the atmosphere at Capitanes’ games will become the staple for home games of an actual NBA team in the city. It’s a long shot but that hasn’t dampened the optimism.
When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver visited Mexico in December, he said the Capitanes would give the league a great opportunity to see if Mexico could be considered for a franchise in the future.
So far, it appears the organization is on the right path.
Though the Capitanes lost a three-way tiebreaker and missed the G League playoffs — the finals begin Tuesday — they provided some answers to off-court concerns in their first season in Mexico City.
Following their inaugural G League season in Fort Worth, Texas, due to the pandemic, the Capitanes settled into the state-of-the-art Arena Ciudad de Mexico — a glass-clad facility located in the north part of the city that cost $300 million to build and opened in 2012.
Attendance was a concern, but team president Rodrigo Serratos said the Capitanes top the G League in selling individual tickets and rank fifth in total attendance despite their home arena not being located near downtown Mexico City.
“We have a big arena, so we are working with a small set-up, but we have been averaging around 65% of its capacity,” Serratos told The Associated Press. “So far, it´s been pure magic.”
There also are safety concerns about having a permanent team in Mexico City. As recently as Monday, four people were killed in what is believed to have been drug gang-related violence. The killings came less than a week after a U.S. tourist was shot in the leg in the nearby town of Puerto Morelos.