NBA China and Yatai Lanhai Investment Group have agreed to a partnership to design, develop and build the first NBA Center in the world in Tianjin's Wuqing district. The facility will cover 12,000sqm and will include games, training and fitness, kids recreation, interactive games, shopping, dining and entertainment. The NBA Center will become a new landmark in Wuqing, allowing for future urban development in the Beijing-Tianjin metropolitan area. The project will be located in the middle of Yatai Lanhai's new 2,300 acre development named New Water Town. Completion is expected by '15 (NBA). In N.Y., David Barboza wrote the league is trying to capitalize on the popularity of basketball in China by "building NBA theme parks." The NBA "declined to say how much it was investing in the center but said it would be the first of several it planned to set up" throughout the country. The facility will, however, be "placed at the center" of a $1.5B property development (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11).
The "future of the Olympic Stadium may not be resolved by the original deadline of the end of the month," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. EPL club West Ham United is "keen to become the main tenants of the stadium" in time to begin the '14-15 season but are "embroiled in tense negotiations" with the London Legacy Development Corp. The two parties continue to discuss "modifications to be made to the stadium at a cost of up to £160M ($256M) and who will pay for them." The LLDC board, chaired by London Mayor Boris Johnson, "remains split on whether the solution should include West Ham or not." LLDC CEO Dennis Hone told the Guardian talks were entering the "end game" ahead of a crucial board meeting next week, but said there was no "knockout" bid, and the arguments for and against football and the changes demanded by West Ham remained finely balanced. Hone: "If we can't come to a conclusion, in the scheme of things if it slips another month or two I'd rather get the right solution." It has already been decided that the £486M ($778M) stadium will host around 20 days of athletics a year, including Diamond League meetings and the 2017 Int'l Association of Athletics Federation World Championships, "and will be available for community use." Once the main tenants have been chosen, "a stadium operator will be appointed to manage a programme of concerts and other sporting events." Some at City Hall believe that, "with the already iconic stadium having proved its worth as a concert and sporting venue during the Olympics, the LLDC should press on without football." Others, however, including Johnson, believe that West Ham still offers "the most sustainable long-term solution while wanting to ensure that the deal is beneficial to taxpayers" (GUARDIAN, 10/10).
OUR HOUSE: In London, Gibson added that Hone dismissed West Ham's concerns that the stadium "would not feel like their own" if they had to share it with Football League One's Leyton Orient. Hone: "You've got Milan and Inter. You've got Lazio and Roma. They can dress the stadium between games, so that everyone feels like it's their home ground. That's absolutely doable." Hone is "keen to emphasise the progress that has been made in planning for the future of a Park" through which more than 10 million ticket holders passed during both Games. Hone insisted that the Park, which will eventually contain 8,000 houses, "will have sport at its heart in much the same way as the 1951 Festival of Britain left behind a cultural legacy on London's South Bank." Hone: "This is the Olympics, so the legacy has to be sport. We want a full offer of different things, but sport has got to be one of the key things" (GUARDIAN, 10/10).
The capacity of the Cheltenham race course "will approach the 80,000 that can be accommodated by Ascot following the long-awaited construction of a third new grandstand," according to Greg Wood of the London GUARDIAN. Work on the development could start within 18 months, which would mean that "the 2016 Festival meeting would be the first to take place in front of the completed facility." The pace of local planning procedures "will determine precisely when work on the new stand, which will increase the capacity by at least 10,000, can begin." It will be necessary to demolish the current buildings on the site including the royal box and a number of annual members' boxes immediately after one festival meeting in March in order to complete work in time for the festival two years later. Edward Gillespie, who is now in his final few weeks as Cheltenham's managing director after 32 years in the role, said at the annual launch for the track's new season that the stand will be the "largest single development ever undertaken" at the course. Its construction will be overseen by Gillespie's successor Ian Renton who expects a planning application to be submitted in the new year. Gillespie said, "It will be a very substantial building replacing the current royal box, which was built in 1952, and about 45 other boxes, which are fairly basic and were built in the 1920s and 1930s." However, until the new facility is complete attendance at Gold Cup day, the final and most popular day for the Festival meeting, "will be capped at 67,000, in response to complaints from some racegoers about crowding at last year's event." Racing returns to the main track at Cheltenham on Oct. 19 (GUARDIAN, 10/10).
MORE MONEY: In London, Alan Lee reported that in addition to the new construction project the racecourse announced "increased prize money and sponsorship, revealed a potential Australasian challenge at the Festival and vigorously defended the cross-country races that some would wish to see discarded." Regional Head of Racing Simon Claisse said that £5.5M ($8.8M) in prize money will be on offer this season, with the racecourse contributing £3.4M ($5.5M). And £70,000 ($112,000) has been added to both the Showcase and the Open meeting in November, at which the Paddy Power Gold Cup will offer a new high of £160,000 ($256,000) (LONDON TIMES, 10/11).
Greg Norman Golf Course Design has begun golf course shaping on its project with Asian Coast Development Ltd. at coastal Ho Tram, in south-eastern Vietnam. The golf course is part of the Ho Tram Strip project in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. The 405 acre Ho Tram Strip is comprised of five resorts, including two with gaming facilities, located on more than two km of beach front property. The Greg Norman-designed championship golf course site features rolling dunes and ocean views, which will come into play on virtually every golf hole. Norman said, "It's not every day that we get a site as good as this one to design a golf course. This site has everything that you are looking for when designing a course. It's a true links golf experience. Seaside, sand dunes and wind. This is a project that I am very proud to be a part of." Norman has been aiming to minimize the impact on the existing dune system by maintaining the native landscape and utilizing an efficient and modern irrigation system. The course, which is scheduled to open in the third quarter of '13, will be challenging, yet playable for the resort golfer (Greg Norman Golf Course Design). GOLF COURSE ARCHITECTURE noted that the new Almouj course in Oman has officially opened. The course is part of the mixed-use Wave development in Muscat, the country's capital. Designed by Greg Norman's practice, Southern Golf Oman "was the main contractor on the golf course build." Wave Deputy CEO Abdullah al-Shidi said that he "hoped the course would host a major professional tournament in the next few years" (GOLF COURSE ARCHITECTURE, 10/8).