Uptown Charlotte has been transformed into an NBA-themed hub ahead of the league’s marquee All-Star Game this weekend.
Inside the Spectrum Center, which will host the Rising Stars game Friday and the All-Star Game Sunday, a purple and teal “All-Star 2019 Charlotte” logo adorns the center court. A massive brightly lit stage where NBA players will be introduced occupies several sections of the arena in the lower bowl area.
“Obviously when you walk in, it doesn’t look like it does for a regular Charlotte Hornets game,” Kevin Dobstaff, the NBA’s senior vice president of live programming and entertainment, told reporters during a tour of the arena Thursday.
The Charlotte Hornets essentially handed the league the keys to the arena on Feb. 6. The transformation of the Spectrum Center has required a crew of almost 700 people — which included staff from the NBA, Turner Sports and different NBA franchises — who are still busy putting finishing touches on the facility and running through rehearsals, Dobstaff said.
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The arena is accustomed to hosting concerts as well as basketball games, but not both at the same time, which is essentially what the All-Star Weekend is, Dobstaff said.
“To try to essentially do both at the same time in the same event structure has its difficulties,” he added.
The NBA’s staging for the game took over about 20 percent of the 19,000-seat arena’s capacity. Other design elements that the NBA set up in the arena are intended to reflect the host city, Dobstaff said, including the teal honeycomb decal on the center court.
“Every little aspect of All-Star is designed to feel like the city’s it’s in,” he added. That includes live performances: Rapper J Cole, a Fayetteville native, will perform the halftime show at the game, for instance.
The All-Star weekend is a star-studded affair that will feature hundreds of unsanctioned parties and events over the course of the next few days. One of the other major ways fans will notice uptown’s changed is the makeover of the Epicentre, which this weekend will act as a free destination for fans. Tickets to the fan fest are available at NBAEvents.com.
The names of dozens of brands are splashed across the Epicentre for a number of different fan “activations,” or interactive promotional areas for fans.
Beats, for instance, has an “activation space” on the center’s lower level where fans can try on different Beats headphones and have their photos taken.
Regular Epicentre customers should note that many businesses will operate a little differently this weekend than they typically do.
Budweiser took over Rooftop 210, setting up several tents on the bar’s patio where several live performances will be held over the weekend. And Studio Movie Grill has a $60 parking fee all weekend and its menu will be limited, according to its website.
“I certainly hope, for the city of Charlotte, that (fans’) takeaway is what an amazing experience they had. We always want to feel like we left a legacy in the market and that everybody had a great time,” Dobstaff said.