NBA Playoffs is City of Houston's Chance to Shine

The Rockets and Lakers go head to head tonight at the Toyota Center for Game 3 of the second round playoff matchup. And although Houston has hosted plenty of big events in the past, such as the Superbowl and recently Wrestle Mania, the visitor's bureau says being in the national spotlight gives the city a chance to show what it has to offer and improve its image. Bill Stamps has that story.
The city of Houston was recently named one of the most affordable vacation spots in the country. Anyone who lives here knows it's also one of the most affordable places to live. But if you talk to people outside of Texas, they may have different opinions. Greg Ortale is president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. He says the key is getting them here to see for themselves.

"I think people are surprised by our diversity. I think people are surprised by just what's here. People don't realize they have impressions of Houston that goes back to old western movies, an old dust bowl , and here they come and it's a beautiful green verdant area, a thriving community and beautiful skyline. One of the best in the world, according to some sources."

image
of Toyota CenterSo when Houston hosts big events like this playoff series with LA, people from other cities will see shots of Houston on television, and some fans will even travel from out of state to watch the games. What they see could bring them back for more.

"When they do come here, more than likely they're going to come and see the area around Toyota Center. They're gonna see Discovery Green, the Brown, Minute Maid, the compactness there. They're gonna see all the construction cranes. They're gonna see the Pavilions House of Blues, [and] a lot of the restaurants that are all over town."

One place where Houston is getting plenty of coverage is China. Phen Zhen is a writer for a sports magazine in Beijing. He says Yao Ming has put Houston on the map in his country.

"You know since Yao's come to Houston, the people in China know Houston more. You know, before that maybe just a little bit of them know Houston, but now, almost whole China. Chinese people you know, millions, thousands, they know Houston."

Who knows how many Lakers fans in California will vacation on Houston, but Zheng says there's no doubt where the Chinese are going if they come to the U.S. When they visit United States, Houston will be their choice.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.