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NBA to bulid huge arenas in China
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The National Basketball Association and billionaire businessman Philip Anschutz's AEG entertainment firm have formed a joint venture to develop NBA-style arenas in China.

As the first NBA-style arena in Asia, Wukesong will host the NBA China Games and will also be available for concerts, theatrical shows and international ice-skating or ice hockey events.

As the first NBA-style arena in Asia, Wukesong Stadium in Beijing will host the NBA China Games and will also be available for concerts, theatrical shows and international ice-skating or ice hockey events.

The ambitious project, that might feature a dozen or more arenas in China's major cities, was announced on Sunday at the O2 Arena in London before an NBA overseas preseason game between Miami Heats and New Jersey Nets.

"NBA China and AEG have formed a joint venture to design, construct program and operate multi-purpose NBA-style arenas in the major cites throughout China," NBA commissioner David Stern told a joint press conference.

"These venues will be state of the art entertainment destinations, and will anchor those communities and bring to them world class sports, cultural events and entertainment," he added.

With the NBA China games three days to go, AEG president and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke said that they were anticipating more detailed plans soon with local governments and developers although it is yet to be revealed when and where the arenas and entertainment will be built.

"We expect within the next few weeks to begin a series of announcement on opportunities, partnerships and a vision with corporation and government officials." he said.

Stern said that they had already been contacted by many local municipalities and governments.

"We'd like to have the visits first before being able to come up with a list and see where the best opportunities are. We anticipate that in a relatively short order, we will have laid out a road map of a dozen buildings throughout China even down to some small cities."

While AEG said the plan involves construction of 25 arenas, Stern reduced the number to twelve.

"The scale is going to be over a period of time, a dozen or so." said Stern.

Most of the arenas will be newly built rather than remodeling existing ones, according to Leiweke.

Both expressed confidence in finance despite the world financial crisis at the moment with Leiweke stressing "we think of this over the next 20 years".

He also said: "we all recognize the opportunities for growth in China."

"In terms of finances, we will be making investment decisions on a building-by-building basis fundamentally based upon our partners involvement," Stern said.

According to reports in the U.S., the arenas, which could form the infrastructure of an NBA-branded league in China, are to be financed largely by local and provincial governments.

"We won't do this without an economic return over time for AEG and the NBA," said Leiweke.

Stern said that the league was looking to capitalize on a growing urban Chinese middle class with increasing disposal income.

"China is an enormous market with enormous potential, not only for basketball but for entertainment venues," he said in a recent interview.

The NBA's business interests in China have been growing for nearly 30 years. The league now has more than 100 employees in four cities, and 15 marketing partners in China.

The NBA has had a huge fan base in China through decades of promotion and marketing and the basketball market in that country is especially boosted by Houston Rockets all-star center Yao Ming.

Yi Jianlian, China's new NBA star, were playing in the London game with New Jersey Nets.

He had been supposed to turn up in the NBA China games between Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors but the matchup was set up before the trade that sent Yi Jianlian to the Nets.

(Xinhua News Agency October 13, 2008)

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