May 16, 2024 - Sports

Push for NBA All-Star Game in Detroit gets real

Mayor Mike Duggan, Red Wings/Tigers owner Chris Ilitch, Pistons owner Tom Gores and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

From left: Mayor Mike Duggan, Red Wings and Tigers owner Chris Ilitch, Pistons owner Tom Gores and NBA commissioner Adam Silver speak at Cass Tech in 2016 during a press conference for the opening of Little Caesars Arena. Photo by Chris Schwegler/Getty Images

Bringing the NBA's All-Star Weekend to Detroit is a priority for the organization that helped the city host the most attended NFL Draft in history.

Why it matters: For the NBA, a league that — like the city of Detroit — is more than 70% Black, hosting an All-Star Weekend here makes sense. But it hasn't happened in 45 years.

  • Chris Moyer, communications director for Visit Detroit, the economic development group that promotes the city as a destination for events and conferences, tells Axios that the NBA All-Star Game in Detroit would be special.

State of play: Cities hosting the NBA's All-Star weekend held in February traditionally serve as a playground for fans and celebrities. It also comes with major economic impact to the local nightlife industry.

  • The weekend — which features a rookie-sophomore game, skills competition, dunk contest and the All-Star Game — would attract thousands of basketball fans from across the country for a weekendlong celebration of Black culture, entertainment and fashion.

What they're saying: NBA executives came to the NFL Draft, which brought a total of 1.3 million people downtown over the entire weekend, Moyer tells Axios. Visit Detroit's Claude Molinari first told WXYZ's Brad Galli during the draft that NBA officials were in town for the draft because they are interested in bringing the event here.

  • "It's something we've been working on with the NBA for a while," Molinari said. "Commissioner Adam Silver was here a couple of months ago and I think every single person he met in Detroit, the first thing out of their mouth is when can we get an All-Star Game?"

Flashback: Detroit has hosted two NBA All-Star Games, in 1959 at Olympia Stadium and in 1979 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

  • The Palace of Auburn Hills never hosted an All-Star Game in its 29 years as the home of the Pistons. LCA is nearing its 10th anniversary without hosting an NHL or NBA All-Star Game.

What's next: After Indianapolis hosted this year, the NBA will hold All-Star Weekend in San Francisco and Los Angeles, then Phoenix in 2027, meaning the earliest Little Caesars Arena could host the game is 2028.

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