In February, the NBA will celebrate its 75th anniversary at the NBA All-Star Weekend. The league will go the full monty, and it selected Cleveland to mark this milestone. It’s the third time the city has hosted, with the last being the NBA’s 50th anniversary in 1997.
Cleveland has bragging rights. “The selection process is very competitive. This event is like the Superbowl for the NBA,” said Mike Mulhall, vice president of business development for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
Many cities apply, much like bidding for a convention. The NBA narrows the list and makes site visits to finalists.
What made Cleveland stand out? It knows how to finesse big events like the 2016 Republican National Convention, Major League Baseball’s 2019 All-Star Game and the 2021 NFL Draft. Plus, Cleveland is a sports-crazy town. “We have quite a resume,” said Mulhall. The recent multi-million-dollar renovation of the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, home of the Cavaliers, was no doubt a selling point too.
The excitement is building in the city. The NBA All-Star Weekend is expected to pump $100 million into Cleveland’s economy.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase Cleveland to the world, continue to change the narrative and show people we’re a world-class city,” said Mulhall. The game will be broadcast in more than 200 countries and in more than 40 languages.
There’s more than just the big game on Sunday night, with events like the All-Star Celebrity and Rising Stars games and NBA Crossover, where fans shop for exclusive merchandise, attend interviews with players, enjoy live music and interactive basketball activities.
Beyond the official NBA festivities, other corporations and organizations will have special programming and events, including the Cleveland Power of Sport Summit that will celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion in sports. “We could have 400 events throughout the week,” said Mulhall.
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