Big Apple Tournament: A modest event that will lead to bigger and better things?

From the news accounts and photos (see links below) it appears that a good time was had by all at the recently concluded Big Apple tournament. Participating in the tournament were 5 club teams from Germany and the hosts, New York City Team Handball. As I reported earlier there were some space and time limitations that precluded this tournament from having more American participation. The tournament was won by a club from Stuttgart and in addition to the tournament an all star game was held with many former and current Bundesliga stars participating.

The entire event was largely conceived by Karl Gladeck of German company, TR Team Travel, as a way of introducing Handball to the USA and allowing German fans to mingle with top Bundesliga stars in a unique setting. Besides Handball many of the visitors took part in the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration and attended an NBA basketball game between the New Jersey Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Note the photo op with Pascal Hens and Shaquille O’Neal.

Although, not an official Bundesliga event it was good to see that the General Manager of the league, Frank Bohmann made the trip. Here’s hoping it opened his eyes to the possibility of more aggressively pursuing the vast, untapped market in the U.S. Sure, the tournament and venue were small, but it’s still notable that a sizable contingent of Germans flew to the U.S. for this minor event in the midst of a recession. Certainly it’s worth exploring whether something could be done on a larger scale.

The German Federation, a separate entity from the German Bundesliga, is working with the U.S. and Polish Federation to play a Germany – Poland National Team exhibition in Chicago on 17 July. It will be interesting to see how that this match is promoted and whether it can avoid the low attendance figures that the French Miami tournament had last year.

The key is to balance the European travelers with an American audience that unfortunately doesn’t exist yet. Mr Bohmann met with USA Team Handball President, Dieter Esch and General Manager, Steve Pastorino so surely steps to grow such an audience were discussed. One such step that I’ve promoted ad nauseam is the need for TV broadcasts in the states. Barring a major deal with ESPN or NBC Universal let’s hope that Bundesliga webstreaming is brought back on line even if it is just for the few fans that are already here in the States.

USA Team Handball: Team Stuttgart Wins Big Apple Tournament (3 Jan 10):
USA Team Handball: German media pick up Big Apple Tournament (4 Jan 10):
New York City Team Handball Club:
Handball-World: Handball goes New York (31 Dec 09):
Handball-World: Bundesliga Stars celebrate New Year's Eve together in New York (2 Jan 10):
Handball-World: Big Apple Tournament started – THC New York in the semi (3 Jan 10:
A-Shaq jersey for Hens: Pascal Hens meets Shaq (4 Jan 10): (with photo of the two stars)
Stuttgarter Zeitung: Development after the New Year's Eve Party (2 Jan 10):
THN: If you build it, will they come? (18 Apr 09):
THN: German Bundesliga blocks internet Handball broadcasts to rest of world (22 Sep 09):
Handball-World: Tournament in New York: All-Star team beats U.S. Selection (4 Jan 10):
Handball-World: Tournament in New York a great success – not only for the winning team from Stuttgart (5 Jan 10):