BEIJING -- The NBA has taken a stake in designing and
running Beijing's Olympic basketball venue during and after
August's Summer Games.
NBA China -- a joint venture of the NBA, broadcaster ESPN and
Chinese companies -- said Thursday it has joined promoter AEG and
the Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Center to design, market,
program and operate the stadium.
Basketball is growing in popularity in China, and the nation's
top player, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, is expected to be one of the
Olympics' major stars. The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball are
all striving to crack the China market and take advantage of the
nation's burgeoning leisure spending.
The glass-walled indoor stadium in western Beijing seats 18,000,
sitting beside baseball fields that will be torn down and replaced.
There already had been an agreement among the NBA, the Beijing
Olympics Organizing Committee and FIBA, the game's world governing
body, to run the facility during the Olympics.