CBA Teams To Receive Cash Boost, With Stipulation Of Higher Venue Standards
Local media in China reported that Chinese basketball teams are "set for a major cash injection after the league secured marketing tie-ups with more than 20 sponsors, including a five-year deal worth RMB 1.7B ($273M)," according to Alastair Himmer of REUTERS. A Beijing News report revealed that the windfall has made the Chinese Basketball Association "one of the richest professional leagues in China." Clubs can "expect to see a boost to their coffers of around $1.6M, almost 10 times more than their previous pay-offs from the CBA." As a trade-off, the CBA has told clubs "to improve facilities, including air-conditioning and lighting, at its venues." CBA Competition Department chief Bai Xilin said, "The league won't make money. The entire funds will go to clubs' infrastructure building and salary expenses" (REUTERS, 11/23). In Beijing, Sun Xiaochen wrote it "remains a long shot for all the gyms to reach the NBA-standards of Beijing's MasterCard Center and Guangzhou's Int'l Sports Arena." In a gym reportedly only "five degrees above zero" in Binzhou, former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady "refused to play" with his Qingdao Eagles after being on the court for only 98 seconds. Qingdao GM Sheng Xishun said, "The fans' support was warm, but the gym was too cold. Letting him play might get him hurt. We were worried." Despite the financial boost, "some managers remain concerned about balancing their books with their share." Guangdong Southern Tigers GM Liu Hongjiang said, "Even if we get more money from the league this year, it's still a drop in the bucket. It's impossible to make both ends meet with just this amount of funding" (CHINA DAILY, 11/23).
PRICE GOUGING: In Beijing, Sun added it was expected fans would "spend double or triple the face value for a scalped ticket" to the CBA's kick-off game on Saturday. Former NBAers Stephon Marbury of the Beijing Ducks and Gilbert Arenas of the Shanghai Sharks squared off against each other in the season opener. Reports revealed that 1,000 tickets had been released to online vendors for public purchase, "while 5,000 were held for private sale to Shougang Group (which holds its stadium's naming rights) employees, execs and whoever else the company deemed worthy." Online ticket sales for Saturday's game were launched on Tuesday, and "all 1,000 were purchased within six minutes despite the prices being raised by at least 40%" (CHINA DAILY, 11/24).