NBA China Partners with AEG, Plans to Develop Venues

Less than a year after the National Basketball Association created NBA China, the organization has formed a joint venture with Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment presenter AEG to design, market, program and operate multi-purpose, NBA-style sports and entertainment arenas in major cities throughout Greater China. NBA officials called China an exciting marketplace with a growing appetite for sports and entertainment. AEG, the developer and operator of the O2 arena in London, will work with the NBA to create relationships with the Chinese government as well as local developers to oversee the design and development of arenas and entertainment districts. The partnership will manage booking and marketing of a wide variety of events including basketball and other sports events, concerts, family shows, cultural events, trade shows/conventions and various live entertainment performances. On Jan. 14, the NBA announced the formation of NBA China, which will conduct all of the league’s businesses in Greater China. The goal of the NBA-AEG joint venture is to develop arenas in conjunction with surrounding cultural and entertainment districts potentially made up of restaurants, retail outlets, cinemas, hotels, residential areas, sports training facilities and smaller live entertainment venues. The new organization will be equally owned and will oversee all decisions for each development including identifying target cities and project sites, arena design and development, procurement of naming rights and other sponsorships, securing an arena anchor tenant and the hiring of key personnel. AEG and the NBA first discussed a partnership at the O2 Arena last year during an exhibition game between the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves as part of NBA Europe Live presented by EA SPORTS, the league’s preseason tour of Europe. AEG is a global sports and entertainment presenter. The wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, owns, controls or is affiliated with a collection of companies including more than 90 facilities worldwide such as STAPLES Center, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE, and The O2, a 28-acre development located in the eastern part of London along the Thames River, among others. The NBA has interacted with Chinese basketball for decades, including first hosting the Chinese national team in 1985. The NBA opened its Hong Kong office in 1992 and currently employs 100 people in four offices in greater China. NBA China Games 2008 will return to China for the third year and play two games in Beijing and Guangzhou. The NBA became the first American sports league to stage games in China in 2004 and returned in 2007.