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NBA CAFE: WILL HORNETS ITEMS ON MENU COME WITH SIDE OF RICE?

          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). 
 
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