Jose Cardenas:The Phoenix Suns basketball team unveiled their Spanish language website aimed at increasing their Hispanic fan base. Joining me to talk about the site and more is Phoenix since president Jason Rowley. Thanks for joining me.
Jason Rowley: thanks so much Jose.
Jose Cardenas: we just finished a lengthy discussion of immigration reform and what it means to Arizona. I want to talk about what the Suns are doing with their Hispanic fan base. You were part of a delegation that went to Mexico City appeared have a sense for how we're viewed there.
Jason Rowley: Thanks for having me on. Went down to Mexico City with a trade delegation that included mayor Greg Stanton, David KOVASSOS, the city manager, several others. A few other representatives from the Diamondbacks. Really it was eye-opening for me being a long time resident of Arizona and dealing with different business interests down there.
Jose Cardenas: Somebody who grew up near the border.
Jason Rowley: about ten miles from the border. It was very surprising to me although maybe it shouldn't have been, surprising that in each discussion we had for example their tourism groups and some of the Senators we met with that the discussion of how Arizona's perceived was forefront on their minds.
Jose Cardenas: I take it perceptions were negative.
Jason Rowley: they were negative. When we're competing for tourism dollars against states like California, Texas, Colorado, some others where individuals in Mexico have money to spend they are using that against us from an economic standpoint to say come to our states rather than Arizona. It really is a negative perception. That was the big point was to say, look, we want to develop face to face relationships. We want to have a situation where you know you can come up to Arizona, feel comfortable, there are people here who are welcoming of you and make sure you understand you can feel safe, have a good time, enjoy the things this state has to offer. It was really eye opening.
Jose Cardenas: The Suns basically made a political statement at the time SB 1070 was passed, expressed their opposition to it, got a lot of coverage for that. Did you get any credit in Mexico City for that position?
Jason Rowley: We did. There was a feeling when we went down that they knew we were allies. That's a really good thing because let's be realistic here, Mexico is a $6 billion export partner for Arizona. I think the numbers are about 13 billion total is what the trade partnership is really worth in terms of value. 6 billion of that is exports from Arizona to Mexico. In the tourism world, tourists coming from Mexico to Arizona relate to about 23,000 jobs in Arizona. There's an enormous economic impact. From our perspective as a sports team we want to have as wide a fan base as possible. When you look at the demographics of Arizona, the Phoenix metro area, 40% Hispanic fan base, or population base, our fan base needs to match up with that. Our sponsors expect that they can reach that fan base and that market segment through partnering with us. It's an extremely important that we develop those relationships.
Jose Cardenas: I want to talk with respect to the fan base in Arizona, but before we leave Mexico, the Diamondbacks, for example, spent a lot of time cultivating a fan base in the state of Sonora. Are the Suns planning on doing something comparable in Mexico?
Jason Rowley: That's our plan. They have a box office in Hermosillo. There were Diamondbacks representatives as well. It was great to be able to sit there, we did one media session where it felt really good to have two of the major sports teams from this market down in Mexico preaching that statement that we want to make sure people understand this is a place they can go.
Jose Cardenas: Let's talk about the efforts that you're leading now. A number of things. One is fiesta night. We have a video that we're going to run as you and I are talking, but also the website. This is the video we're talking about. We have Nicole Jimenez singing the national anthem. Tell us about these fiesta night events.
Jason Rowley: The NBA has done fiesta night for seven years. We have certainly been involved in that with our “Los SUNS” jerseys. Our night this year was march 9th.
Jose Cardenas: Here we have some folkloric dancers.
Jason Rowley: We want to make sure that we're reflecting the culture or make sure we're reflecting and really emphasizing a particular heritage. We do it for others. We have Polish night, some other nights as well, but for us this has been one we have been doing for quite some time. The Los Suns jerseys are quite popular. We sell out every time we have them in the team shop. It's a fun night. We have Mexican flavored food in our concession stands, so we try to do it up for that night.
Jose Cardenas: Let's talk about the website. It's in Spanish?
Jason Rowley: Correct. Basically we launched it about three weeks ago. It essentially mirrors our English website. So if you go to the website and click on all the headlines and by lines, the articles I have -- have been translated to Spanish, an effort to try to connect as best we can and connect for our sponsors with the Spanish speaking community in the market.
Jose Cardenas: I understand you have some other things coming up that are part of your efforts to attract the Hispanic fan base. One of them involving the Mexican Olympic team.
Jason Rowley: That's correct. One of the things I was very specific in terms of making that trip to Mexico City is I wanted to meet with the Mexican basketball federation, which essentially is what manages the Olympic team for Mexico and their national amateur team. What I would like to do, I know Robert wants us to try to chase down and get done, is possibly this season but hopefully the season following if not this, is to bring the Mexican national team up for a preseason scrimmage or exhibition game with the idea that it again shows that we are trying to build those cross-border relationships and really provide a product that people can support.
Jose Cardenas: You have some Spanish speakers on the team and you had Leandro Barbosa from Brazil last year. Luis Scola from Argentina. any prospects to seeing a player in the NBA from Mexico playing for the Suns?
Jason Rowley: I would love to see that. Really the NBA is such an international product, and we really position the NBA as a global brand, not just here in the United States. If you look at it, we have numerous players from different countries.
Jose Cardenas: maybe one day we'll have some -- on that hope we have to end the interview. Thanks for joining us.
Jason Rowley: Thanks for having me.
Jose Cardenas: that's our show for tonight. I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good night.