Pac-12 reaches agreement with Alibaba to support historic China Game

Pac-12 Reaches Agreement with Alibaba to Support Historic China Game
First regular season game – professional or collegiate – to be played in China
Game will be on Nov. 14 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai

SAN FRANCISCO The Pac-12 Conference and Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA), the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company, announced today a partnership to support the upcoming historic Pac-12 China Game featuring the Washington Huskies and Texas Longhorns. 

The game and the two-year partnership with Alibaba Group represent a major first for sports in China. With this game, the Pac-12 will become the first U.S. sports league, collegiate or professional, to host a regular season contest in China. The partnership with Alibaba Group will continue into the 2016-2017 academic year and support a second regular season Pac-12 China Game between schools to be announced at a later date.

The Pac-12 China Game will be played Nov. 14 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and is the latest event in the Pac-12’s Globalization Initiative, an unprecedented effort to promote goodwill and showcase the Conference and its member institutions in China through student-athlete exchanges and sport. 

“We are proud to welcome Alibaba Group as a partner for our first-ever Pac-12 China Game,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Alibaba’s innovative spirit and excellence are compatible with Pac-12’s values, and will be critical as we focus on growing our activities in China and providing our student-athletes with transformative educational and cultural experiences.”

The game will be played at 11 a.m. local Shanghai time and broadcast live in the United States on ESPN on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET.  Alibaba Group is the unrivaled leader in mobile in China, and the game will be distributed live via Alibaba’s mobile and digital distribution platforms.  

“We are proud to partner with the Pac-12 to bring this historic game to China,” said Jim Wilkinson, Alibaba Group’s Senior Vice President. “This game and Alibaba Group’s involvement is consistent with our commitment to bringing the best of the world to China, and showcasing the best of China to the world.”

“This partnership is about so much more than a basketball game,” said Wilkinson. “As these student-athletes complete their education and enter the global economy, China/US relations will be central to the future of the world in which they live. We truly believe that this trip will provide these student athletes with a once in a lifetime chance to learn about China, to make new friends, and to hopefully impact their futures in a positive way.”

In addition to being the presenting sponsor, Alibaba Group is also developing an academic program for the visiting student-athletes.  While the game will be played in Shanghai, during their visit to China both teams will travel from Shanghai to Hangzhou, China for an educational program there. 
 
Alibaba Group is headquartered in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province and one of the seven ancient capitals of China.  The city was described by Italian traveler Marco Polo as the finest and most luxurious city in the world. Hangzhou has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities in China for much of the last millennium, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery and its historical and cultural heritages.  Richard Nixon visited Hangzhou during his historic visit to China in 1972, which was an important and historic step in building relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China. 
 
Alibaba Group is deeply committed to education, especially given the company was founded by former English teacher Jack Ma.  In addition to experiencing the Hangzhou culture and history, both teams will visit Alibaba Group’s headquarters for a full day educational program that is being developed by the company. This program will seek to educate the student-athletes on strategic societal, cultural and business trends taking place across China, including in the important area of e-commerce. Following the trip Alibaba Group will provide the China education module to all Pac-12 institutions for their students. 

Importantly, the visit to Alibaba Group’s campus will coincide with the 11.11 Shopping Festival, which is the biggest online shopping day in the world. The teams will also practice at the Alibaba Group headquarters’ athletic facilities. 

“This is a great opportunity for these students to participate in true cultural exchange through college sports,” said Scott. “Their experiences both on and off the court will not only be valuable to their future success, but also help foster goodwill and mutual understanding between our two countries.”

“Just like in the realm of the steadily growing business and economic ties between our two great countries, ‎competition and cooperation in athletics as well can serve as valuable mechanisms for deepening our bilateral engagement with one another and strengthening the bonds of friendship among all segments of our respective societies,” concluded Scott.

Fast Facts about Pac-12 Globalization Initiative:
•    Since starting the initiative in 2011, the Pac-12 has sent two men’s (UCLA, Arizona State) and the Cal women’s basketball teams, two all-star women’s volleyball teams, and one all-star men’s basketball team to compete in China.
•    In the U.S., the Pac-12 has hosted three U.S.-China Symposiums on Collegiate Sports Development at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Pac-12 Basketball Tournaments. 
•    The Pac-12 has a key partnership with the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC) for the Initiative. The FUSC is China’s national organization for university sports and operates under the Ministry of Education.
•    Across Pac-12 institutions (undergrad and graduate), international students make up roughly 14 percent of the student body. 
•    More than 21,000 students (undergrad and grad) at Pac-12 institutions are from China.
•    Basketball is the most popular sport in China with an estimated 300 million people playing the sport.
•    184 million Chinese viewers tuned into the Team China versus USA Dream Team Basketball Game during the Beijing Olympics.

About the Pac-12 Conference:
The Conference has a tradition as the “Conference of Champions,” leading the nation in NCAA Championships in 48 of the last 54 years, with 475 NCAA team titles overall. The Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities: The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University.  For more information on the Conference’s programs, member institutions, and Commissioner Larry Scott, go to www.pac-12.com/conference.

About Alibaba Group:
Alibaba Group’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. The company is the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world in terms of gross merchandise volume. Founded in 1999, the company provides the fundamental technology infrastructure and marketing reach to help businesses leverage the power of the Internet to establish an online presence and conduct commerce with hundreds of millions of consumers and other businesses. 

Alibaba Group’s major businesses include:
•    Taobao Marketplace (www.taobao.com), China’s largest online shopping destination
•    Tmall.com (www.tmall.com), China’s largest third-party platform for brands and retailers
•    Juhuasuan (www.juhuasuan.com), China’s most popular online group buying marketplace
•    Alitrip (www.alitrip.com), a leading online travel booking platform
•    AliExpress (www.aliexpress.com), a global online marketplace for consumers to buy directly from China
•    Alibaba.com (www.alibaba.com), China’s largest global online wholesale platform for small businesses
•    1688.com (www.1688.com), a leading online wholesale marketplace in China
•    Alibaba Cloud Computing (www.aliyun.com), a provider of cloud computing services to businesses and entrepreneurs

About Mercedes-Benz Arena:
Mercedes-Benz Arena is Shanghai’s premier live entertainment, culture, sports and lifestyle venue. The six-level complex seats up to 18,000 with state-of-the-art acoustics and production technology for staging of the biggest indoor shows in China. It incorporates a public ice skating rink, a cinema with six screens, and 20,000 square meter retail podium of concept shops and wide variety of food & beverage outlets.