While it’s going to be tough to get tickets to the 2019 NBA All-Star Game unless you are very well connected, fans will soon have the chance to buy tickets to some events that will take place over the league’s Feb. 15-17 weekend in Charlotte.
Starting Wednesday at 10 a.m., the NBA will begin selling tickets for a free, open-air fan fest at the Epicentre, the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Bojangles’ Coliseum, the Rising Stars game at the Spectrum Center, and the All-Star practice and media day at Bojangles’.
Tickets for various events go on sale at NBAEvents.com. Prices start at $15, the NBA said in a statement.
The All-Star Game weekend is the NBA’s premier event of the year, a bit like the Super Bowl is for the NFL. Uptown Charlotte will be filled with thousands tourists, celebrities, NBA officials and members of the national media.
Hotel rooms will be expensive and hard to come by. Restaurants and bars will be packed, and traffic will be a headache. The level of security involved will make the weekend feel more like the 2012 Democratic National Convention than a Carolina Panthers playoff game or an ACC Championship game.
“We go after these events in part because of the economic impact and hotels they fill, but also the media impact. People who don’t know our city will learn about it,” Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said. “It’s a very big deal for us.”
The game is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact for the region, despite the fact that tickets to the weekend’s main events — the slam dunk contest, the three-point contest, the skills challenge and the All-Star Game — won’t be available to the general public. Those are reserved mainly for sponsors, NBA-affiliated individuals, businesses and the Hornets.
The exclusivity of those popular All-Star weekend events is a major reason why the NBA opens up the ticketing of other events over the weekend to the general public.
“We were really interested in making sure the Charlotte community and our fans had access, (so that they can) be part of the event,” Hornets President Fred Whitfield told the Observer.
The Hornets get a block of tickets for the events at the Spectrum Center, which he estimates will lose 15 to 20 percent of its 19,000-seat capacity to media blocks and other arena requirements. The team conducted a lottery for its season ticket holders for tickets for All-Star weekend events, Whitfield said.
Charlotte was originally selected to host the 2017 All-Star Weekend in summer 2015, but the NBA rescinded that decision in 2016 over the league’s opposition to House Bill 2, the now-repealed measure that limited legal protections for LGBT individuals.
The league and other organizations, including PayPal and the NCAA, denounced the controversial law as discriminatory against the LGBT community. The 2017 game was instead held in New Orleans.
The league’s decision last summer to award the 2019 All-Star Game to Charlotte followed a year of negotiating between city, business and Hornets officials, specifically Whitfield, and lawmakers in Raleigh to repeal HB2.
The All-Star weekend caps off the 30th anniversary season of the Hornets. The All-Star Game itself is on the 56th birthday of Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who was, incidentally, the leading scorer of the All-Star Game in 1991 in Charlotte.
“I wish we could say we did this on purpose but we didn’t,” Whitfield said of the game’s timing. “We at our organization and everyone in the city are truly grateful to Commissioner (Adam) Silver to allow the game to be re-awarded to us.”
Here are some additional details about the ticketed All-Star events available to the public:
- Feb. 15-Feb. 17 from 12 p.m.-7 p.m.: NBA All-Star at the Epicentre. The free fan destination will include player appearances, virtual reality demonstrations, art and memorabilia displays, and an NBA store.
- Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.: NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The game will feature teams of celebrities from movies, TV, music and sports.
- Feb. 15 at 9 p.m.: Rising Stars game at the Spectrum Center. The game will include the NBA’s top rookies and sophomores competing in a U.S. vs. the world format.
- Feb. 16: Media day begins at 9:30 a.m., practice begins at 12 p.m. The two events this year are sold as a combination ticket, with some ticket sales going to nonprofit journalism organizations. Media day includes more than 20 NBA stars being interviewed by reporters from around the world, with the opportunity for fans for autograph and photo opportunities. Practice includes both All-Star teams and their coaches preparing for the All-Star Game on Feb. 17.