Hapoel Jerusalem’s new owner Matan Adelson lays out plans for club

Jun 28, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Jerusalem officially introduced Matan Adelson as the new owner of the club at a festive press conference with all of the pomp circumstance and fanfare at the Jerusalem Arena. Adelson, who is the son of Dr. Miriam and the late casino magnate Sheldon, enters the Israeli sports arena after having made Aliyah a couple of years ago and was excited to share his dreams and thoughts about where he sees the future of the Reds.

Taking over the ownership reins from Moshe Greenberg and Eyal Homsky was the first order of business for Adelson after having attended his first ever Hapoel Jerusalem game back in January. Next up for the newcomer is trying to turn the capital city squad into the top professional team in the country and the continent.

There’s no question that Adelson will be challenged to do so, but with a long term vision he feels that Hapoel Jerusalem and the brand and name that it carries can make significant inroads as he looked ahead as to how he can take the franchise to the next level both on and off of the court of play.

“Today is a truly exciting day for me personally,” Adelson began. “For Israeli basketball for the beautiful city of Jerusalem and especially for Hapoel. We are at the dawn new era both for the club and for myself and I couldn’t be ore thrilled and more confident as we embark on this next chapter.”

Matan Adelson – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Basketball has always been influential in Adelson’s upbringing with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers being at the forefront, “I’ve been surrounded by the game of basketball my entire life and the game has been responsible for my fondest and earliest memories as a child goring up on the West Coast of the United States. has been a part of me on the west coast. I was was born in Los Angeles, but despite living in las Vegas my family and I frequently attended Los Angeles Lakers games.

“As a kid I was mesmerized by the atmosphere of Staples Center, the legacy of winning championships and the larger than life personalities that made each game so captivating. It was impossible for me not to be magnetized by a player like Kobe Bryant. For me, Kobe embodied grit, unmatched work ethic and was incredibly determined in the goals he set for himself. Growing up, I took a lot of inspiration from him, watching him strive to be the best version of himself and through my leadership I hope to manifest the ‘Mamba Mentality’ in this organization now and for years to come.”

Adelson laid out his vision across the entire spectrum of the club, touching on many aspects for the future of the team with the help of experienced professionals from North America to locals as well, “My vision for the club contains several layers, first and foremost I am committed in building a best in class commercial organization to support a winning team on the court. This will include recruiting new talent on top of the existing employees that we already have to provide the team the infrastructure it needs to succeed off of the court.

“My goal is to bring talent with professional sports management experience from the United States, individuals who can cultivate best practice and western mindset with Hapoel. Additionally I hope to expand the team with local talent particularly from the world class talent pool this country’s technology eco-system has to offer.”

Matan Adelson – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

For the players, Adelson wants nothing less than the best for those who will be putting on the show on the floor of the Jerusalem arena, “On the player side we want to provide them with the best conditions possible to strive to be the best on and off of the court form the standard of the apartments, team bus and most importantly the facilities that we provide them. I am excited to work with mayor Moshe Lion and the Jerusalem municipality to find a solution to build a best in class training facility for the organization that will be built in NBA standards and will be unparalleled to any facility this country has ever seen. Hapoel should retain the best players in Israel and should deserve an unrivaled player experience.”

Of course the fans will also benefit from the latest technology to deliver the news and views about the club and the actual gameday experience, “Similarly the fan experience is at the forefront of my vision. I’m committed to improving the experience in the arena from the concessions to security, to more interaction between the fans and the game. The arena’s atmosphere is already unbelievably special but it become significantly more special if it was filled every game. The organization is only as strong as the fans that stand behind it and we want to bring our fans the best possible experience. Another part of the fan experience extends to the digitization of the interaction that the fan has with the team. Accessibility in buying tickets and merchandise, reading news and more.”

Perhaps Adelson’s biggest challenge will be how he can eventually move the club into the prestigious EuroLeague which has been a closed competition and one that has been very difficult to enter. Other Jerusalem owners have attempted the move but were unable to accomplish the feat.

Despite the potential opportunity to play in the EuroCup which could lead to a ticket to the EuroLeague, Adelson decided to stay put in the Basketball Champions League for an additional season, “On the sporting side the goal is to win titles and that is for every competition that we play in. As you all know we have committed to stay in the BCL for one more season and the club will renew efforts to reach the Euroleague. This is a sentiment that I personally shared with the BCL and Euroleague management. There is no doubt that in my mind that Hapoel as an organization and community, supported by the best fans in Israel and Jerusalem as a city and brand deserves a place in the Euroleague. There is also no doubt in my mind that Israel can support two Euroleague teams despite what has been said by some in the past and despite what is still said today.

“Nevertheless the road to the Euroleague is unclear. It could take two years, it might take five years or maybe even more. But we will do whatever it takes to meet that goal we will do it our way without a timeline over our heads and in a way that will hopefully cement the club’s status as a Euroleague organization for the long term.

Matan Adelson – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Adelson continued, “I believe that the landscape in the Euroleague is different and the EuroLeague is changing. There is a lot of talk of expansion in the Euroleague and they realize that in order to grow as an organization they need to expand. I think Jerusalem makes the strongest case of any for a place there. There is no clear path, it is unclear, I spoke to CEO Paulius Motiejunas and Dejan Bodiroga, the Euroleague President assured me that they see that the Euroleague is a place for Jerusalem in the longterm but the path to get there is unclear at the moment. We are excited to stay in the BCL for the upcoming season and exclusive agreement with the BCL management to bring the Final Four to Jerusalem this coming season.”

Jerusalem is a worldwide brand name and Adelson is aware of that as he wants to be able to take the club internationally, “There are a large number of people from outside of this country from many different backgrounds and many different religions that love this city and love the significance of the city and I think we can tap into that internationally. Working with international media outlets, NBA exhibition games and elsewhere in the off-season. Of course, we travel across Europe as we play and tapping into local Jewish communities is important as well.”

Ultimately, Adelson’s love for the game may be his greatest asset and combined with his love for the Holy City of Jerusalem could make for a perfect combination.

“My love for the game of basketball and the influence it has had on my life as well as the indestructible bond I have with this country has led me to take on this journey. There isn’t a city that I am more proud to now represent than Jerusalem, the eternal and everlasting capital of our country and people. There is little to be said of Jerusalem’s significance on the global stage as a cultural, historical and religious capital. Gives the innumerable wonders of the city, I feel that Jerusalem deserves a basketball team that reflects just how magnificent it is and that is what I am setting out to do with Hapoel.”

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