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AEG to use Shanghai arena to bring stars to China

SHANGHAI, Jan 19, 2011 – After lining up concerts by R&B star Usher and the Eagles, entertainment giant AEG said Wednesday it plans to use its new Shanghai arena as a springboard to bring more international stars to China.

The operator of the Los Angeles Staples Center and London\’s O2 arena said it can make touring China commercially viable for artists after taking over Shanghai\’s 18,500-seat Mercedes-Benz Arena.

"Just about everybody we speak to wants to come," Craig Hartenstine, senior vice president of tours and events told AFP in an interview.

In their first China tour, US rock band the Eagles will play Shanghai\’s flying saucer-shaped arena on March 9. Then on March 12, Usher takes the stage at the riverside venue, which was built for last year\’s World Expo.

The Eagles will also perform at the AEG-run, 18,000-seat Mastercard Centre in Beijing, the basketball venue for the 2008 Olympics.

Concerts by Chinese stars will fill most of the calendar for the arenas, but AEG plans to add more international stars to the mix.

By offering two internationally-managed arenas, AEG hopes to persuade artists into routing European or Australia-Japan tours through China, Hartenstine said.

"It\’s great to be able to land in China and play both Beijing and Shanghai and have these great venues," he said.

NBA pre-season basketball games will also be played at both arenas and NHL ice hockey teams have expressed interest in coming, he said.

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