China is taking its love of table tennis to a new level. The city of Huainan in Anhui province is planning to build a 150-metre tall hotel designed in the shape of a ping-pong bat.
But why a table tennis racquet? As it turns out, “a ping-pong racquet has a perfect architectural shape for a hotel,” Jin Chang, director with Huainan Municipal Bureau of Sports told the China Daily.
What he means is that the top of the building (the grip, in racquet parlance) will be designed for sightseeing. The paddle part of the structure will house guest rooms and conference facilities.
The Ping-Pong hotel, which will cost Rmb300 million to build, shows how hotels are keen to make a PR splash these days, if they want to stand out from the growing crowd. We reported in issue 98 that many hotels in China face a glut of empty rooms, after a surge of investment in the last few years.
But the sports-loving Huainan government didn’t stop there. In addition to the ping-pong attraction, other sports-themed buildings are under construction. According to Xinhua, these include an American football-shaped main stadium, a volleyball-shaped swimming pool and an indoor venue shaped like a football. The whole project will cost up to Rmb2.8 billion ($427 million).
Residents of Huainan are less enthusiastic about all this themed construction. The Ping-Pong hotel is first in the firing line.
“This building costs more than Rmb300 million to build but is good for nothing. I think it’s better not to waste money,” says Li, a Huainan local.
Beijing has urged local governments against wasting money on vanity projects (see WiC60). But local officials often turn a deaf ear.
The Huainan government insists it has much nobler motives, saying the purpose of the sports-themed structures is (naturally enough) to promote a sporting lifestyle in the city.
In support of that claim, Huainan has signed agreements with China Sports Industry Group, to bring sporting events of an international standard to the local stadiums in the years ahead.
Whether the Ping-Pong hotel will also manage to draw the crowds remains to be seen. One potential marketing tactic? Perhaps Huainan could promote its new accommodation as a place of ‘pilgrimage’ for the millions of ping-pong fans across the country (for more on China’s obsession with table tennis, see WiC15).
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