The China Sharks, part of the Asian League, will play their first game at Songjiang Stadium, their new home in the Songjiang District of Shanghai, on October11 against the Seibu Prince Rabbits.
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The China Sharks operations in Shanghai will include two offices at Grand Gateway Shanghai, No.1 Hong Qiao Road in the Xu Hui District, and at the Sports Center for Shanghai Universities, 2000 Wengxiang Road in the Songjiang District. The offices collectively will employ six local and four ex-patriot business, marketing and operations professionals and will address team management as well as corporate outreach and sponsorship fulfillment.
According to Charlie Faas, executive vice president and chief financial officer, SVS&E, locating the Sharks franchise in Shanghai, China’s largest city with a population of more than 20 million, provides a strong impetus for the team and for hockey.
“The goal of SVS&E and the Asian League is to expand and grow the Chinese market. It makes sense for our first international franchise to be in Shanghai. The city has a reputation of being a cosmopolitan center and has a strong desire and acceptance of new cultural and sporting activities—with the added benefit of an international fan base already familiar with hockey,” said Faas.
In collaboration with the Chinese Government, SVS&E, the San Jose Sharks parent organization, acquired the rights to professional ice hockey in China last year. A significant rationale for this collaboration is based on the Chinese government’s desire to build a national presence in China to become competitive in the worldwide hockey market.
“As a global city and a showpiece of the world’s fastest growing economy, we feel it provides a perfect storm of momentum to launch this team and further popularize the sport,” Faas said.
Over the next five years, SVS&E will be working with the government and local Chinese investors to build youth leagues and industrial leagues, in addition to developing hockey venues across the country.
“The Sharks and SVS&E move into China demonstrates that the Bay Area’s and Silicon Valley’s innovation and envious global connections extend beyond the realm of business, and now into the world of sport. The announcement further cements the role of the Bay Area and its companies as the gateway between China and the United States. At their hearts, both Shanghai and San Jose are frontier cities, and this is a pioneering effort worthy of their reputation,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO, the Bay Area Council.
In 2007, the Bay Area Council, representing more than 275 of the largest employers in the San Francisco-Silicon Valley-Oakland Bay Area region, and the Shanghai-Hong Kong Council for the Promotion and Development of Yangtze, commonly known as the Yangtze Council, representing leading companies in the Shanghai/Yangtze region, signed the first region-to-region memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at strengthening the global competitiveness of both regions by setting up a framework for increasing economic cooperation.
The City of San Jose participates through the Bay Area Council in a collaborative relationship with the Yangtze Council. Key areas of collaboration include arts and entertainment, clean technology, and venture capital.
According to San Jose Councilmember Sam Liccardo, in addition to growing a San Jose entity overseas, there are other significant benefits of this expansion.
“The expansion of the Sharks franchise is a way to extend a leading San Jose brand and expertise internationally,” said Liccardo.
According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the San Jose Metro Area is home to the largest Chinese population in the Bay Area. This presence in Silicon Valley is seen as a force to further the Sharks success overseas.
“San Jose’s existing recognition here within the Chinese community will help fuel awareness aboard. The two-way business and cultural exchange through this arrangement will further build a strong alliance between our region and the Yangtze River Delta,” Liccardo said.