VITÓRIA (Espírito Santo), Sept. 20, 2023 – The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and the team's Global Ambassador and Athlete Development Consultant Anderson Varejão today unveiled their second court renovation in Brazil. This project focused on the historic court and athletic facility of Clube de Regatas Saldanha da Gama, which was constructed in 1902 in the coastal city of Vitória, Espírito Santo.
The Saldanha da Gama project is part of the Cavs' long-term commitment to growing the game of basketball in Brazil and includes the launch of Portuguese-language digital channels, a partnership with Varejão, and court revitalization projects across the country. The Vitória ribbon-cutting event comes on the heels of the team's April 2023 dedication of the renovated Beco do Nego basketball court in São Paulo.
"This is truly a full circle moment for me. Saldanha da Gama has always held a special place in my heart," said Varejão. "To be able to transform the very courts I grew up playing on and to invest in kids living in and around my local community is a dream come true – and we're just getting started. I'm excited to see this partnership with the Cavaliers continue to grow and spread the passion and joy of the game with people across the country."
Clube de Regatas Saldanha da Gama was founded in 1902 and is one of the country's oldest continuously operating sports and recreation clubs. It famously sparked Varejão's early passion for basketball and has remained an important meeting point for youth and basketball fans across the city. The two fully renovated courts were renamed Hélio Demoner Courts in honor of Mr. Hélio Demoner, a long-time physical education teacher and coach who introduced generations of Vitória's children to basketball.
"The Cavaliers have a strong and enduring connection with Brazilian fans, but today's court dedication is especially personal for our Team," said Nic Barlage, Cleveland Cavaliers, Rock Entertainment Group, and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse CEO. "The new Hélio Demoner Courts represent another step in our team's deepening commitment to Brazil. It's an honor to partner with Anderson to invest in his hometown community while continuing to grow the Cavaliers' global footprint."
The newly transformed facility in Vitória was designed by Brazilian artist Antonio Neto. It is also an especially personal endeavor for both the Cavaliers and Varejão. The renovation took about two months to complete and included two courts with a new, custom-designed floor by Neto, backboards, light poles, a new electrical network and underground gallery ducts. Every detail was carefully considered to ensure that fans and athletes of the club could truly enjoy the new space.
The ceremony also included a donation of $10,000 from the Cavaliers organization to support the Anderson Varejão Institute (IAV) ongoing efforts to grow the next generation of basketball talent. In addition to the ceremony and ribbon cutting, the event included a friendly game between Anderson's former teammates from the 1990s as well as a basketball clinic with children from IAV, Saldanha and NBA Basketball School. The event was attended by Varejão, Barlage, Marcos Perini, President of Saldanha da Gama, and many others.
Following today's event, the Cavaliers will travel to Rio de Janeiro, where Varejão will conduct a basketball clinic at NBA Store Arena Rio (Uptown Barra) with 50 youth from NBA Basketball School. The event will take place on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 3.30pm. The NBA Store Arena Rio is the largest physical retail store in Latin America. These activities are part of the team's long-term plan in the country, as the Cavaliers continue to rank as the #1 most followed team in the NBA app.
The Cavaliers have also grown their Portuguese-language fanbase with the @CavsInBrasil Instagram and TikTok channels in partnership with the Brazilian digital agency Play9. This ongoing commitment earned the team the 2022-23 Season NBA Team International Strategy Award, which recognizes the best International Team Marketing Program strategy for the 2022-23 season. You can follow along this season via @Cavsinbrasil on Instagram & TikTok.