Charlotte will see heavy security during NBA All-Star Game weekend

With the NBA All-Star Game coming to uptown in a couple of weeks, Charlotte is gearing up to host the biggest sporting event in its history. An estimated 150,000 visitors are expected in uptown, and security will be ramped up.

Agents from the Department of Homeland Security will be in town to work with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department throughout the weekend, patrolling the area around the Spectrum Center where the All-Star Game will be played Feb. 17. Other events, such as the NBA All-Star Game practice, will be held at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

The All-Star Game isn’t considered an Extraordinary Event — a security designation that was created before the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Charlotte City Council repealed the crowd-control ordinance in the summer of 2017, deeming it no longer necessary since it was being used too often.

Still, uptown dwellers, workers and visitors should anticipate a heavy police presence.

Police records from past All-Star games (in Orlando, Houston and New Orleans) show a surge in arrests during All-Star Weekend, according to a 2015 story from NBC 4 New York. Crimes such as assault, prostitution and counterfeiting were reported near the arenas in host cities.

Here’s some of what to expect in Charlotte from a security perspective:

Large tote bags, backpacks and suitcases will not be allowed on board the light rail trains or on station platforms, according to the city. Large bags won’t be allowed in or around the Spectrum Center, either. All bags and purses brought into the arena must be smaller than 14” x 14” x 6”.

Some of the perimeter setup will begin around the arena the night of Feb. 13, according to CMPD.

For security purposes, a number of roads around Spectrum Center will be closed during All-Star weekend, including Brevard and Caldwell streets between Fourth and Sixth streets, and East Trade and Fifth streets between North Davidson and College streets.

E-scooters and bicycles won’t be allowed in areas around the arena, either, the city says.

CMPD is urging people to report suspicious activity — 911 for emergencies and 311 for non-emergencies. CMPD is also urging people to walk in groups, and avoid low-lit areas.

As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.