LONDON (AP) -The NBA has formed a joint venture with Anschutz Entertainment Group to design and develop multipurpose, NBA-style arenas in major Chinese cities.
The official announcement of the partnership was to be made later Sunday at the O2 Arena in London, where the New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat were to play a preseason game. AEG runs the O2.
``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,'' the NBA said in a statement given to The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.
NBA commissioner David Stern has been looking to increase the league's marketability overseas for several years, and teams are touring Europe for the third straight preseason. The venture in China will be equally owned by the two parties.
me between the New Orleans Hornets and the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
The development of the same type of arenas in China is an indication Stern wants to see more NBA teams playing outside the United States and Canada, but he has been hesitant to say if the games will be competitive.
``Right now we're still using the friendlies (exhibition) model,'' Stern said Friday, adding the league was also far from playing an NBA All-Star game abroad. ``It's nice to talk about, but logistically it's not a practical thing.''
The statement did not say which cities will get the new arenas, but they will be constructed with other amenities.
``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 NBA said.
Besides numerous restaurants and a movie theater, David Beckham's football academy is near the O2 in London.
The NBA has a huge fan base in China, and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming was one of the biggest stars of this year's Beijing Olympics.
``The NBA currently has relationships with 51 Chinese telecasters, including a partnership of more than 20 years with national broadcaster CCTV,'' the NBA says.
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