Sunday, October 19, 2008

NBA expands to China, gets local subsidies, (likely) avoids local activism

The National Basketball Association's initiative in China is expanding big-time.

From an article in the 10/11/08 New York Times, headlined N.B.A. and Partner to Help Build 12 Arenas in China:
The N.B.A. and AEG will announce on Sunday plans to design and operate at least a dozen arenas in China, extending the league’s presence in its largest foreign market. The arenas could form the infrastructure of an N.B.A.-branded league in China.

Under their plan, the league and AEG will make modest cash investments in the arenas, but their expertise will give them substantial ownership stakes in the buildings.

The arenas are to be financed largely by local and provincial governments.

...The league and AEG are partners in the Beijing arena where basketball was played at the Summer Olympics in August. They are looking at building arenas in major cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The arenas will be designed to accommodate a broad range of uses beyond basketball.


Entertainment districts

It will be interesting to see how residential areas fit into the cultural and entertainment districts. From the press release:
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 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.


A parallel, a contrast

Note that the ubiquitous Goldman Sachs, involved in the Atlantic Yards arena deal, is the "strategic advisor to NBA China."

Given the pattern established at the Beijing Olympics, where two handicapped women in their late 70s, with the common grievance of "receiving insufficient compensation when their homes were seized for redevelopment," were sentenced to "re-education through labor" for simply applying to hold a legal protest in the area so designated (according to the NYTimes/International Herald Tribune; photo via AP), it's a good bet that the Chinese equivalents of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn would have some trouble getting off the ground.

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