Tag Archives: Mercedes Benz Arena

The NBA in Shanghai

25 Oct
NBA in Shanghai!

NBA in Shanghai!

A couple of weeks ago we went to an NBA pre-season game in Shanghai between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.  I had read about it on a website a long time ago and convinced Li to get tickets back in August.  They weren’t cheap – even far up the tickets were over $100 USD, but I figured for once in seven years – why not?

They held the game at Mercedes Benz Arena – the last time I was there was when I went to the Elton John concert a couple of years ago.  This time I realized that the Chinese name is actually Mercedes Benz cultural center (文化中心).  I suppose Elton John and basketball are cultural events – but it’s not a literal translation of arena – that’s for sure.

We got to the game a little early to make sure we were able to soak in the experience.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like – and I haven’t been to an NBA game in over 8 years, but it was pretty much like I remembered.

Li had a great time too!  We sat next to a father and son who spoke Spanish and English the entire time so I got to eavesdrop a little.

Li had a great time too! We sat next to a father and son who spoke Spanish and English the entire time so I got to eavesdrop a little.

Our seats were great – we were right above one of the entrances so nobody was sitting in front of us and we had extra leg room which is always a plus.  I had a hot dog (seemed appropriate, though the chicken sandwiches appeared to be the more popular choices) and some popcorn and we enjoyed the dancers and people warming up the crowd.

Looking up above the big screen, I noticed that there were the Chinese and American flags at the top of the arena.  Basketball is fairly popular in China – Yao Ming is retired now, but he made an appearance court side and still caused a stir.  There were a couple of players who were definitely more well known than others who got huge rounds of applause.

A pair of flags - one in sport

A pair of flags – one in sport

It was obvious that some folks had never been to a western style sporting event before.  They had the “kiss camera” and the first several couples they zoomed in on seemed oblivious.  Finally one couple got the idea and the entire arena erupted into applause.

The game itself was high scoring with the lead changing constantly.  Players rotated throughout to get their minutes and things weren’t decided until the last two minutes or so – which meant everyone stayed until the end.  One highlight that occurred during the fourth quarter was that Shaquille O’Neal showed up as an ambassador for Meng Niu – which is a Chinese dairy company, in a cow print T-shirt to help judge a dance competition.  It was pretty funny and not something I think he would necessarily do in the US.

Enjoying the game

Enjoying the game

After the game was over we made our way slowly back to the subway.  I had never gone to an event there during the day, so we were treated to some nice views of Lujiazui across the river.  Development appears to be continuing in the area (which was the old 2010 World Expo site), but still not very much has happened, considering the Expo ended four year ago.  The Chinese pavilion still seems to be a big tourist draw – I have heard that it is a decent museum, so maybe one of these days we’ll go explore it.

We had a great time and am glad that we planned far enough ahead to enjoy it.  What was the last sporting event you went to?  Have you ever gone to a sporting event in another country where the culture is different?  Any fun stories?




Elton John in Shanghai

4 Dec
The tour materials

The tour materials

The Friday after Thanksgiving Elton John and his entourage swarmed into Shanghai.  He is a legend – and since I had the opportunity I decided to go to his concert.  I put it into the same category as to when I got to see Tony Bennett at Ravinia a few years ago in Chicago.  One of my coworkers knows a “professional ticket reseller” and managed to get us seats on the floor for a reasonable price.

Mercedes Benz Arena (the same place that I rocked to Maroon 5 in September) was rocking, but there were still empty seats which was a little strange.  I think part of it may be that Elton John’s career spans the opening up and development of China, so the majority of his music catalogue are pretty much unknown here.

While at the show I did a little research (smart phones are incredible).  Sir Elton John is 65 – whereas the average 65 year old Chinese citizen has gone through the cultural revolution and the Great Leap Forward which don’t seem to be things that you mention in the same breath as Elton John.  His flamboyance with that age group is not necessarily a positive difference.

Elton John concert 1

Elton John Concert - 2

That said there were lots of foreigners out in force and folks seemed to (for the most part) enjoy the show.  It was a more sedate concert, so we didn’t need to stand for the entire three hours.  Elton John is a great performer – he performed for nearly 2.5 hours straight without a break and we got to hear lots of his greatest hits.

Remember how I said most people enjoyed themselves?  This teenage kid was there with his dad.  He fell asleep about an hour in.

Remember how I said most people enjoyed themselves? This teenage kid was there with his dad. He fell asleep about an hour in.

This woman had her computer out and worked for nearly an hour and then left.  I don't think she was a fan.

This woman had her computer out and worked for nearly an hour and then left. I don’t think she was a fan.

My favorite part of the concert though wasn’t Elton, it was the opening act.  He had two cello players (2 Cellos) who did some amazing things.  They covered Michael Jackson, U2 and a couple of other hits, using only two cellos.  It was a great start to the evening.

My favorite act of the night.  They were great!

My favorite act of the night. They were great! (but blurry in this photo)

Elton himself, despite the energy level, he didn’t sound as good as in my head and on my iPod.  I could tell that his voice can’t hit the high notes that I love to listen to in Rocket Man (which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year) and the acoustics in the stadium just didn’t do his voice justice.  The guitars and bass overpowered him and I left with a headache, which was unfortunate.  I still had a really good time, but I wouldn’t pay to see him again.

My coworkers at the show

My coworkers at the show

It was a nice start though to the holiday season – getting out and dancing in the aisle and running for the last subway train will make it a night I won’t soon forget.  The singing – well, that came in second for once.

Have you heard someone live that just didn’t hit you the way they record?  I never want to see John Mayer live because I’ve seen his videos and when he sings – to me – it’s just not attractive.  Is there anyone else on your list?

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