New Name For Bird’s Nest?

Officials at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, will likely embrace a Western philosophy after the 2008 Summer Olympic Games by seeking naming rights to the massive structure.

Leverage Agency CEO Ben Sturner, whose New York-based company is helping to broker deals for the “Bird’s Nest” and the accompanying “Water Cube” Aquatic Center, told the Wall Street Journal six undisclosed multinational companies are competing for title rights to the stadium.

Ten companies are competing for partnerships, such as soft drink and technology firms. The Aquatic Center would have only similar partnership rights.

“I would call it the most valuable piece of real estate in the world right now,” Sturner told the WSJ. A 30-year naming rights deal for the $500 million stadium could be in the hundreds of millions.

Potential buyers include Coca-Cola, Lenovo Group and Adidas, although Adidas told the paper it has never put its name on any venue and Coke wouldn’t comment on future marketing activities.

Although some Western companies have drawn criticism, such as Starbucks, which built a shop in Beijing’s iconic Forbidden City, a Nielsen Co. survey found 70 percent of people in five big Chinese cities accepted the idea of naming rights in principle, Sturner told WSJ.

The Bird’s Nest established a new Chinese private-public ownership model, with Chinese company Citic Group owning 42 percent of the building and rights to operate it for 30 years, the paper reported.

NBA China is also in talks with AEG Worldwide to sell naming rights to Beijing’s Wukesong arena, which is hosting basketball games during the Olympics. The two entities jointly operate the facility and have been rumored to be interested in building as many as 12 arenas for an NBA league planned in the country.