AEG’s China Ventures

The Summer Olympics are over, but AEG isn’t leaving China any time soon. It’s been known since January that the company hopes to build a venue network in the country.

AEG struck a deal with NBA to operate the 18,000-capacity Wukesong basketball stadium in Beijing. AEG wants to develop and run arenas throughout the country, building a series of events that would rival entertainment in the West.

AEG President Tim Leiweke also thinks the company can fetch $100 million in naming rights for the Wukesong arena.

“Our highest priority is Asia,” he told the Los Angeles Times while at the JW Marriott Hotel Beijing. The exec has reportedly made frequent trips to several Chinese cities, including Nanjing and Qingdao, to lay groundwork for new stadiums. AEG has one-dozen staff in China, the Times reported.

There have been rumors AEG and the NBA would expand their partnership to run as many as a dozen Chinese stadiums but both sides told the paper such speculation is premature.

“We’re getting approached,” Heidi Ueberroth, head of the NBA’s International business facilities, told the Times.

AEG’s first crucial test may be how many events it can book into the Wukesong.

“We think a badminton world championship in our arena is something we want to pursue,” Leiweke told the paper. “I’m convinced we can do 120 nights a year of events.”