The NBA has announced a joint venture with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to develop about a dozen arenas in China, and Shanghai will likely be home to the first one, according to multiple media reports. The joint venture partners haven’t named a location for the Shanghai venue, which they say will be an 18,000-seat arena completed in time for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. The second arena site, Guangzhou, is expected to be announced at Wednesday’s NBA preseason game at Guangzhou Gymnasium.
Tim Chen, CEO of NBA China, said that the NBA and AEG will have a $28 million stake in the Shanghai project and that the total project cost will be $277 million. By contrast, the Ford Center, a similarly sized arena that will host the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics), cost $89 million to build. A lack of appropriate venues is considered a major barrier to the NBA making further inroads into the Chinese market.
NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that construction wouldn’t start right away and that the league hadn’t chose all of the locations for arenas, which could also be in “Greater China” cities like Taipei, Macao and Hong Kong. “We anticipate that in a relatively short order we will have laid out a road map of a dozen buildings or so throughout China,” he said at a news conference with AEG in London, where Yi Jianlian and the New Jersey Nets are playing an exhibition game against the Miami Heat.
The arenas will be part of multiuse entertainment complexes, according to a statement from the NBA: “Where feasible, the arenas will be developed in conjunction with surrounding cultural and entertainment districts potentially comprised of restaurants, retail outlets, cinemas, hotels, residential areas, sports training facilities and smaller live entertainment venues.”
The announcement comes just days before the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors play a pair of pre-season games in China. They will play at Guangzhou Gymnasium October 15 and on October 18 at Wukesong Arena in Beijing, the Olympic basketball venue developed by the NBA (pictured above).
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