SBJ/Jan. 10-16, 2011/Facilities

AEG, MasterCard reach first naming deal for Olympics facility in Beijing

AEG Global Partnerships continues to break new ground in China after negotiating MasterCard’s naming-rights deal for the former Wukesong Indoor Stadium in Beijing.

The five-year agreement, valued at more than $4 million annually, renames the arena MasterCard Center. The 18,000-seat facility served as the basketball venue for the 2008 Olympics and is the first Olympics facility in Beijing to be rebranded commercially.
Wukesong Indoor Arena
Wukesong Indoor Stadium, which seats 18,000, played host to basketball games during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

It is also the first naming-rights deal in the country’s capital and the first time MasterCard has put its name on an arena.

Elsewhere, the credit card company has its name on the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ practice facility, which opened in 2009.

In Beijing, the deal took seven to eight months from start to finish, said Todd Goldstein, president of AEG Global Partnerships, not unusual in the world of naming rights. Coincidentally, MasterCard’s color scheme matches China’s red and gold flag, Goldstein said.

“There was no question we needed to convince a number of individuals on their side why naming rights can be powerful and successful,” he said. “It’s a world-class facility and much different than what China had in the past.”

MasterCard’s activation will include setting up branded, interactive kiosks tied to VIP rooms, Goldstein said. The scope of those kiosks has yet to be identified, but MasterCard officials are excited to have the opportunity to reach a large portion of China’s population in its capital city.

“Everybody coming into the arena will either be an existing or a potential customer,” Goldstein said.

The terms also call for MasterCard to support content and programming by sponsoring top international and regional artists. The agreement is a partnership among MasterCard, the NBA, AEG and Bloomage International Investment Group, a real estate firm that owns and operates the arena.

AEG, Bloomage’s arena operations consultant, and event promoter AEG Live, its sister company, are expected to schedule more than 200 dates during the next five years, including NBA basketball, table tennis and badminton. Concerts by the Eagles, the Black Eyed Peas and Hong Kong singer/songwriter Jacky Cheung are already booked for this year.

The partnership plays a key role in MasterCard’s campaign to push public awareness of its brand and services in China. MasterCard sponsors a fashion event in Shanghai and runs programs in the country to support female education. The deal takes effect Jan. 21, continuing through 2015. There are options to extend the naming rights beyond that date.

The deal is AEG Global Partnerships’ second one in China. In 2009, the group sold naming rights to German automaker Mercedes-Benz for an 18,000-seat arena in Shanghai. That 10-year deal is valued at $6 million annually.
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