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NBA CAFE: WILL HORNETS ITEMS ON MENU COME WITH SIDE OF RICE?
Published February 2, 1998
The NBA and Hard Rock Cafe Int'l will team on a themed- restaurant venture which will see the NBA license its name and the logos of its 29 teams to Hard Rock, according to Stefan Fatsis of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. In addition, Hard Rock "has agreed to spend at least" $90M during the next three years "developing the establishments," which have yet to be named. The 10-restaurant deal is expected to be announced today. Despite the "glut of sports offerings" in the restaurant category, Fatsis writes the NBA "believes it can draw tourists and fans to repeat visits with ever- changing screenings from its vast library of footage and viewing of live year-round games" from the NBA and WNBA. The NBA "also intends to focus overseas," and while its first restaurant is to open in early '99 at Universal Studios in FL, "at least six of its initial 10 will target foreign cites from Rio de Janeiro to Shanghai, China." The setting will have a retail and interactive component while including "upscale fare in an arena-like atmosphere." WHITHER SHAQ? Fatsis notes that the "biggest battle" in the sports themed-restaurant category "could feature" Planet Hollywood and "its struggling" All-Star Cafe (with Shaquille O'Neal as a partner) vs. Hard Rock and its "narrowly focused NBA project." The NFL recently "rejected" the restaurant concept for a larger entertainment center. NFL President Neil Austrian: "A themed restaurant is so ho-hum. I don't think it has staying power" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/2).