Feb 16, 2023 - News

Salt Lake City businesses gear up for All-Star Weekend

The store front of Urban Hill, a fine-dining restaurant.

Photo: Courtesy of Urban Hill

Local bars and restaurants are bracing to serve a throng descending on Salt Lake City for NBA All-Star events this weekend.

The festivities — running Feb. 17-19 — are anticipated to draw nearly 125,000 visitors to the city, Dee Brewer, executive director of the Downtown Alliance, told Axios.

Details: Nick Zocco, executive chef of Urban Hill, a fine dining establishment in the Granary District, told Axios it booked its first buy-out for more than 200 NBA and sports executives this week, along with three other large private events.

  • Zocco said the restaurant typically serves 550–600 patrons per weekend. This weekend, he anticipates 850–900.
  • "This is certainly going to be the biggest week that we've seen so far," he said. "It will be our first real challenge."
  • Richard Noel and Duncan Burrell, co-owners of the joint bars Beer Bar and Bar X, said they're hosting a few private events. They also plan to screen the All-Star events for the public.
  • "[It's] never a negative thing when you get new, fresh people in your bar," Noel said, adding that he's excited to welcome new sports fans.

Flashback: Bridget Gordon remembers the excitement of working as a bartender and manager at an old watering hole called Port O'Call when the city hosted the 1993 NBA All-Star Game and 2002 Winter Olympics.

  • Gordon, owner of the downtown sports bar the Green Pig Pub, said she expects more than 1,300 customers this weekend, nearly twice the number she sees on a normal weekend.
  • "It's good income for everyone and revenue for Salt Lake," she said. "It's fun too because you get a lot of people who have never been to Salt Lake and then they learn that we're such a cool town."

The bottom line: The weekend's events are expected to generate $125 million in direct spending and another $125 million to $150 million in indirect spending, such as hiring electricians or carpenters to build pop-up venues.

  • "It's certainly good for hotels and restaurants, but it's important to note it's good for everybody because they are paying taxes and paying into the economy," Brewer said.

What's next: Brewer said he's excited for Salt Lake City to showcase its hosting capabilities and said it could propel the city's bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics.

  • "This is our moment on stage," he added.

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