AEG lands MasterCard as sponsor of Beijing arena

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MasterCard Worldwide has obtained naming rights for Beijing’s Wukesong Arena, the basketball venue for the 2008 Olympic Games, Los Angeles-based entertainment giant AEG said Wednesday.

It is the first 2008 Olympic Games venue to be rebranded commercially, AEG said, and the first arena in Beijing to be renamed in such a way.

The 18,000-seat arena in Beijing will be renamed the MasterCard Center or, in Chinese, Wanshida Zhongxin, in a five-year deal with the venue owners Bloomage International Investment Group and AEG. The price MasterCard paid to put its name on the arena was not disclosed.

AEG developed and operates Staples Center and L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles and is one of the largest sports and entertainment presenters in the world. It will act as a consultant to MasterCard Center in Beijing, where Cantonese pop singer Jacky Cheung will be first to perform in the renamed arena on Jan. 21.

-- Roger Vincent