Ever since Yao Ming made history to become the first Mainland-born NBA All-Star, the league has enjoyed massive popularity in the country. In the same year that the great center was elected into the basketball hall of fame, NBA China has opened its first ever NBA Playzone in the big man’s hometown.
Located in Xintiandi’s Hubindao Mall, the NBA Playzone is a 1,500 square-meter family destination, complete with 10 areas full of activities designed to “inspire young people across China to use the sport of basketball and the NBA to live healthy active lifestyles."
“Using sports as a tool for life education is important,” says NBA China CEO David Shoemaker. “Team sports like basketball teach children key life lessons like the importance of teamwork, communication, leadership and frankly, how to deal with winning and losing.”
Digital interactive games like Halftime Live are impressive for its technology - allowing the little ones to use shadows of their hands to shoot balls into a computerized net in a game that mixes a video game feel with physical activity.
More conventional is the Rookie Challenge - a soft-play obstacle that will have the kids jumping, climbing, crawling and dunking. The Mascot Training Ground (see cover image) is an over-sized jungle gym that will have children entertained for hours - full of slides, a ball pit and a mini zip-line course for the budding thrill seeker.
For the older aspiring baller, The Arena area is roughly one-third the size of an NBA regulation court and designed to teach basketball fundamentals to the more serious player. Meanwhile, the Dunk Zone is an enclosed trampoline area for budding Michael Jordans to practice their jamming skills.
Fans of all ages will dig the Measure-Ups area featuring the handprints, footprints and measurements of star NBA players like Kobe, Yao, Kevin Durant and more for fans to compare. The In the Paint area is an arts and crafts designated space while NBA-themed private party rooms are available for birthday parties and special events.
NBA mascots Benny the Bull of Chicago and Houston Rockets’ Clutch will be frequent guests and all-star Tracy McGrady will be the special guest for NBA Playzone’s official opening on Saturday morning.
Although that event is a private affair, McGrady and Denver Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay (who famously played for Guangdong two years ago as an 18-year-old) will be the special guest at NBA 5V5 National Finals - a five-on-five basketball tournament featuring 16 teams from all over China featuring the best youth players, which is going down at Century Square this weekend.
Meanwhile, the world’s first NBA Playzone is now open, offering a variety of packages like a RMB3,3588 20-ticket value pack for one adult and one child to RMB5,508 year-long unlimited memberships. Daily tickets are RMB188 on weekdays and RMB239 on weekends for one adult and one child, with an additional RMB50 for an extra adult.
“Chinese fans are the best fans in the world. We think the NBA Playzone meets market demand for fun, safe and clean indoor active spaces. We expect to see NBA Playzones in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and all over China in a few short years,” Shoemaker says.
“It is something that we’ve designed in China, was inspired in China and is now being created and built in China. It wouldn’t surprise me if something we started with the NBA in China grew and found itself in other countries around the world as well.”
See listing for NBA Playzone here.