Pac-12 Reaches Agreement With Alibaba to Support Historic China Game

The Pac-12 Conference and Alibaba Group Holding Limited have partnered to support the upcoming historic Pac-12 China Game featuring the Washington Huskies and Texas Longhorns.

PAC-12 (edit 2)_1The game and the two-year partnership with Alibaba Group represent a major first for sports in China. With this game, the Pac-12 will become the first U.S. sports league, collegiate or professional, to host a regular season contest in China. The partnership with Alibaba Group will continue into the 2016-2017 academic year and support a second regular season Pac-12 China Game between schools to be announced at a later date.

The Pac-12 China Game will be played Nov. 14 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and is the latest event in the Pac-12’s Globalization Initiative, an unprecedented effort to promote goodwill and showcase the Conference and its member institutions in China through student-athlete exchanges and sport.

“We are proud to welcome Alibaba Group as a partner for our first-ever Pac-12 China Game,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Alibaba’s innovative spirit and excellence are compatible with Pac-12’s values, and will be critical as we focus on growing our activities in China and providing our student-athletes with transformative educational and cultural experiences.”

The game will be played at 11 a.m. local Shanghai time and broadcast live in the United States on ESPN on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET.  Alibaba Group is the unrivaled leader in mobile in China, and the game will be distributed live via Alibaba’s mobile and digital distribution platforms.

“We are proud to partner with the Pac-12 to bring this historic game to China,” said Jim Wilkinson, Alibaba Group’s Senior Vice President. “This game and Alibaba Group’s involvement is consistent with our commitment to bringing the best of the world to China, and showcasing the best of China to the world.”

“This partnership is about so much more than a basketball game,” said Wilkinson. “As these student-athletes complete their education and enter the global economy, China/US relations will be central to the future of the world in which they live. We truly believe that this trip will provide these student athletes with a once in a lifetime chance to learn about China, to make new friends, and to hopefully impact their futures in a positive way.”

In addition to being the presenting sponsor, Alibaba Group is also developing an academic program for the visiting student-athletes.  While the game will be played in Shanghai, during their visit to China both teams will travel from Shanghai to Hangzhou, China for an educational program there.

Alibaba Group is headquartered in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province and one of the seven ancient capitals of China.  The city was described by Italian traveler Marco Polo as the finest and most luxurious city in the world. Hangzhou has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities in China for much of the last millennium, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery and its historical and cultural heritages.  Richard Nixon visited Hangzhou during his historic visit to China in 1972, which was an important and historic step in building relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

Alibaba Group is deeply committed to education, especially given the company was founded by former English teacher Jack Ma.  In addition to experiencing the Hangzhou culture and history, both teams will visit Alibaba Group’s headquarters for a full day educational program that is being developed by the company. This program will seek to educate the student-athletes on strategic societal, cultural and business trends taking place across China, including in the important area of e-commerce. Following the trip Alibaba Group will provide the China education module to all Pac-12 institutions for their students.

Importantly, the visit to Alibaba Group’s campus will coincide with the 11.11 Shopping Festival, which is the biggest online shopping day in the world. The teams will also practice at the Alibaba Group headquarters’ athletic facilities.

“This is a great opportunity for these students to participate in true cultural exchange through college sports,” said Scott. “Their experiences both on and off the court will not only be valuable to their future success, but also help foster goodwill and mutual understanding between our two countries.”

“Just like in the realm of the steadily growing business and economic ties between our two great countries, ‎competition and cooperation in athletics as well can serve as valuable mechanisms for deepening our bilateral engagement with one another and strengthening the bonds of friendship among all segments of our respective societies,” concluded Scott.

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