Sponsorship Of AEG Arena, Set To Open Before World Expo Next Year, Is Mercedes-Benz’s First Named Venue Outside Of Germany
The massive $280 million clam-shaped arena currently under construction on the Huangpu River by Shanghai is set to get a new name, as Mercedes-Benz has purchased naming rights to the massive basketball and mixed-use venue — the first-ever naming rights granted for an arena in China. The Mercedes-Benz Arena, as it will be called beginning in 2011, will be completed in time for next year’s Shanghai World Expo and be used as a performing arts location for several events over the expo’s six month span. The Mercedes-Benz arena, roughly the same size as venues like the Staples Center in Los Angeles, is being constructed through a joint venture between AEG — the Los Angeles-based entertainment juggernaut — the NBA, and Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Group.
As Sports Illustrated points out today, the Mercedes-Benz arena is not the first large-scale partnership between AEG and the NBA in China:
Earlier, NBA China, a joint venture of the NBA, broadcaster ESPN and Chinese companies, joined AEG and the Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Center to design, market, program and operate Beijing’s Olympic basketball venue.
Although the arena will feature a movie theatre, ice skating rink, bowling alley and spaces for retail and live music, its primary use will be as a basketball arena, capitalizing on that sport’s huge popularity in the world’s most populous nation. From the Los Angeles Times:
Key among the sports will be basketball, a game played by 300 million Chinese, according to NBA International President Heidi Ueberroth.
The NBA is eager to gather fans in China and has signed a 14-year partnership with Shanghai Media to promote the game.
Preseason NBA games and other basketball events such as WNBA games will be held at the Mercedes center, Ueberroth said. “This is absolutely an NBA-level arena.”
AEG will manage and book the facility, President Tim Lieweke said. He expects it will be used mostly for sporting competitions and regional and national Chinese entertainment acts. Some Western performers may also appear.
Lieweke also thinks the venue’s saucer design by Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design Group Co. will catch attention. “This is going to be one of the most famous, if not the most famous, arena designs in the world.”