The Charlotte Hornets have a lot going on between the rebranding, heavy basketball decisions and an upcoming preseason trip to China.
So why now add to that burden by hosting the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend?
“We’ve been trying to reconnect with the community. There was a disconnect somewhat,” Hornets owner Michael Jordan said at the news conference formally awarding the event to Charlotte.
“A lot has gone into that: From (reaching out) to the community, to the name change to now the All-Star Game. ...At one time (with the original Hornets) this city and this team were on top. And we took a long fall. We needed a change of direction, a change of address. These events we’ve gone through the past five years are our passage back to the top.
“It’s been a lot of work. But you don’t get back to the top laying around, staying in bed.”
Some NBA teams shun hosting the All-Star Weekend. It’s a load of extra work and the host team gets a limited number of tickets to redistribute to season-ticket holders. So when the Hornets and Charlotte made their pitch to the league office last summer, new Commissioner Adam Silver was receptive.
While Charlotte had just the minimum number of hotel rooms to host this event, Silver advocated for Charlotte because he doesn’t want All-Star Weekend to be just for big-market teams.
“It’s very important to me that we have All-Star Games in as many cities as possible,” Silver said following Tuesday’s announcement. “We’re not looking to rotate it back-and-forth from East Coast to West Coast only in larger markets.”
The 2017 All-Star Game will be at Time Warner Cable Arena Sunday, Feb. 19. Before the game there will be two days of events, some at Bojangles’ Arena (likely a Development League All-Star Game) and some at the Charlotte Convention Center (the “Fan Jam” festival with plenty of interactive games and activities).
Charlotte Hornets President Fred Whitfield said the four-day event should generate roughly $100 million in economic impact on metropolitan Charlotte, based on previous All-Star Weekends in Houston and New Orleans.
A limited number of seats will go to the Hornets, who will make them available to season-ticket holders. Most tickets to the big events (the game and Saturday’s skills competitions) will go to the NBA’s various sponsors and corporate partners.
However, the NBA annually does a series of basketball clinics and appearances by current and former players at local schools as part of All-Star Weekend.
“We recognize that for the game, itself, tickets are limited. While we’re able to take care of a small number of season-ticket holders, all of the other events are so we can make people in the community part of All-Star festivities,” Silver said, noting that the NBA did 100 basketball clinics in New York City as part of the 2015 All-Star Weekend.
“That’s one of the reason we bring in so many legends (former players) -- 150 -- and current players -- 70 -- so they can spread all over the community,” Silver added.
Silver said the momentum for Charlotte to get an All-Star Weekend started in the summer of 2012 when the Queen City hosted the Democratic National Convention, mostly at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“We had people here from the NBA events department when the DNC was in town,” Silver said. “That began the process of making certain improvements to the building. But also we were able to see for such a huge event like that, Charlotte came off with flying colors.”
It certainly didn’t hurt the cause that Jordan, a 14-time All-Star, was all-in on hosting the event.
“Having Michael Jordan as the primary owner here (and) for him to be passionate about it,” Silver said. “We would not be bringing an All-Star Game to Charlotte if we didn’t think he was an A-level performer in running the franchise.”
And if you’re looking for the cherry on top, the NBA’s current Most Valuable Player, and arguably it’s most marketable and popular player, grew up right here.
“Steph (Curry) is going to be a huge deal here,” Silver said of the Golden State Warriors guard who starred for Davidson.
“These days Steph is a huge deal wherever he goes, but Steph Curry coming home, with his dad (Dell) still part of the (Hornets) organization, will be a huge deal.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell