“We need to be cool” Steinberg looks ahead to new basketball season

Oct 1, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel Basketball Winner League opened up the season with a press conference just ahead of the Winner Cup Preseason Final between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem. The new Chairman Ari Steinberg spoke about the upcoming season, changes that he would like to make to bring new fans and families along with also addressing the “Derby Disgrace” from this past Thursday night. The Winner Cup semifinal game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv did not take place due to the Reds decision to forfeit game after what they had felt were unreasonable requests by the police as the gates to the Drive In Arena were opened.

Ari Steinberg – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“We would like to open this season up with positive thoughts and feelings but we have to take into account the events that have occurred over the last few days,” Steinberg began. “We all erred in the way it was handled and it was difficult not to have the game itself. We all want the best for this sports and without the proper administration there won’t be sports. When fans come to a game they should feel secure and that they will return home safely. After the holiday all of the relevant parties will all sit down and see to it that this will be the case. There are new owners and a sports minister who is supporting the Israeli player and that will help those teams as well. We want to bring in new fans, families and children.”

While there wasn’t any violence per se on Thursday night the fact that Hapoel Tel Aviv decided to forfeit the game was a big hit to all those involved at every level of the sport, “We have to deal with the violence which has not been that big of an issue in the sport of basketball and while there wasn’t a game on Thursday there was also no violence. I’m optimistic that things will straighten out and we will sit with everybody including the fans and find solutions to the issues at hand.”

In order to try and find those solutions, a committee headed by the former Hapoel Jerusalem CEO Guy Harel along with the league and the Israel Basketball Association will convene and move quickly in order to ensure that the next Derby that is lasted to take place in November at Yad Eliyahu does so without an problems.

Ari Steinberg – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“We will have a committee headed by Guy Harel who will look at the best options to deal with the Derby and we need both home and road fans at this games. We want to keep the ideals of sportsmanship as part of this event. The police want to find a solutions as well and make sure that fans feel confident and comfortable. Ofer Yannay and Rami Cohen want to find a solution, we all do. A strong hand isn’t enough. I have come here in this position to find solutions.”

Occasionally teams such as Hapoel Jerusalem will have soccer and basketball games scheduled at the exact same hour. In addition, the start times are also difficult for young children and fmileis which Steinberg is aware of, “We want to have full ratings and we want to do the most for our teams, but sometimes the teams need to want that as well. Soccer is stronger than basketball and we are trying the best that we can as we have obligations to the rights holders, sponsors and fans. As for 9pm start times, that is a tough time for families and there are also issues with ratings and we are working on what we can do with the hours.”

For many years the league went with a Final Four format, single elimination semifinal and final games in order to crown a champion. The past couple of seasons saw the move to best of 3 series for the semifinals and finals with a best of five in the quarterfinals. The league is looking to have the semis and final series with five games due to the interest of the fans and creating more drama., however, it’s not that simple Steinberg explained while also looking towards the NBA for solutions as well.

Ari Steinberg – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“I look at the league as having playoffs with longer series but we also have to see how we can do it across the board. Many teams aren’t happy about that but we will want to bring more interest to the finals and there may be a PlayIn. We are also looking at the idea that the NBA has implemented with a Cup competition during the season and that creates more and more interest during the regular season as well.”

Sponsors for sports leagues in Israel are always a hot topic as the need to begin in more mainstream ones would be a boon for the game of basketball. In the United States, there are plenty of sponsors from many sectors of the economy that help the league grow which is something that Steinberg would very much like to add to the portfolio the Winner League.

“We need to be cool and we need to invest more in the social media. Children who are at the games can’t upload pictures in real time due to poor internet and WI-FI. Today’s world runs on social media. We also hope that the in game activities will also bring in new fans. The league needs to know how to market and invest more in the bringing in more sponsors and we are looking at bringing more money in from other sources as well. There is a lot of money out there from the government, however there is an importance that funding not be from the public. With new owners in the league that will help and it will give us more hype along with bringing in a top notch marketing manager, we will be able to bring this to fruition. We want to be a league that is more business like.”

Ari Steinberg and Kevin Rubin – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

With that, Steinberg introduced the League’s new presenter Kevin Rubin who is well known young, up and coming influencer who he hopes will be able to attract more kids and families as well.

Finally, Steinberg acknowledged that the CEO Shlomi Peri will be leaving his role in the upcoming months, “I want to thank Shlomi Peri for all of his work and I want to really express gratitude for everything that he has done.

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