RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) For those fans who don't have Olympic tickets, or are around downtown Rio de Janeiro and don't want to trudge out to the Olympic Park in suburban Rio, the NBA is providing an alternative.
The league will be setting up its NBA House hospitality venue in a warehouse in Rio's renovated port area, alongside the just-completed Praca Maua and the new Museum of Tomorrow built by futurist Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
''We are looking to see people come in who are not that familiar with NBA basketball,'' Arnon de Mello, managing director of NBA Brazil, told the Associated Press. ''We are also expecting the hardcore fans.''
Admission will be free, although there could be long lines when the venue opens Aug. 12 and closes on Aug. 21, the last day of the Olympics.
De Mello said the venue can hold only 500, and he expects 50,000 to pass through over the 10 days.
''We are anticipating huge traffic in that area, so we'll do our best to get as many in as possible,'' he said.
The venue will contain a basketball court, video games, mascots, NBA merchandise, and the Larry O'Brien trophy, which goes to each year's championship team.
Famous players may also make an appearance, because the United States men's and women's teams are staying on a cruise ship in the harbor, right next to the NBA House.
''If they come, they will come in their spare time,'' De Mello said. ''But they are not going to be working there.''
De Mello declined to reveal the cost of the project but said it was an important way to engage fans.
''This is the center point of the NBA and our fans,'' he said. ''Besides the final, I cannot think of another time during this year where the NBA is so focused on one activity.''
The only drawback might be the location.
The port area is far from the basketball venues at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca and the northern cluster in Deodoro, where some women's games will be played. Travel could be treacherous, particularly since the new subway extension will be operating only for people with Olympic tickets or credentials.
The subway line links downtown, Copacabana beach, and the Ipanema beach area to the Olympic Park in the western suburb of Barra da Tijuca. The subway extension is expected to open four days before the Olympics start on Aug. 5.
''I do anticipate that we'll have thousands of people there waking around, especially people who don't have ticket to games,'' De Mello said.
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