The 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend is expected to generate at least $320 million for the central Indiana economy when it takes place in Indianapolis in less than four months.
The figure—a sizable hike from the $250 million local officials had previously projected for the Feb. 16-18 events—was one of several updates offered by Pacers Sports & Entertainment and league officials Wednesday as part of a news conference in conjunction with the start of the 2023-24 NBA season.
Held inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse just hours before the Indiana Pacers’ season-opening home victory against the Washington Wizards, the media event also highlighted All-Star Game rule changes, a new legacy initiative and community events for the All-Star festivities.
Next year’s All-Star events are expected to draw more than 125,000 visitors to the city over a three-day period. Both that figure and the updated economic impact number were calculated through a Temple University Sports Industry Research Center study commissioned by the host committee, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Visit Indy and the Indiana Sports Corp.
“The NBA is a global game, and NBA All-Star is unique because it allows us to put our city on display for a truly international audience,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in written remarks. “With a projected impact of more than $320 million and tens of thousands of new visitors to the Circle City, the ripple effects of hosting this incredible event will be felt well into the future.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the All-Star game will return to its classic Eastern Conference-vs.-Western Conference format with a traditional game. The switch replaces a hodgepodge of concepts adopted in recent years in an effort to spark more interest, such as the televised player draft and the use of the “Elam Ending concept developed by Nick Elam, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Ball State University.
The first 66 All-Star Games all featured East-West matchups. The last six have seen the leading vote-getters from each conference serving as captains and drafting teams. LeBron James served as one captains all six years, with Giannis Antetokounmpo the other captain three times. Kevin Durant had the honor twice, with Stephen Curry doing it once. Some drafts were televised, with last year’s taking place live in Salt Lake City less than an hour before the start of the game.
The decision means captains will no longer draft their own teams. Instead, players with the most votes in each conference will serve as captains. Teams will continue to raise money for charity by “winning” each quarter.
The reason: Silver wants the All-Star Game to look more like traditional basketball. Also, not enough people watched. Ratings plummeted for last season’s game, which wasn’t competitive. Some of the top stars, including Curry, Durant, James and Antetokounmpo either missed the game entirely or played very briefly because of injuries.
“It felt like it was time,” Silver said. “I said earlier, keeping with this overall theme, it’s back to basketball this season. We heard it from our fans, I think the players recognize it, too, that last year’s All-Star Game was something no one was proud of, and I don’t think it was anyone’s fault in particular. I think, though, that we need to refocus on what this league is really about, and that’s about the best basketball in the world.”
Another change—the game will be 48 minutes. Since 2020, the league added 24 points to the leading team’s score after three quarters and played the fourth quarter with only a shot clock but no game clock. The first team to hit the target score won.
And it’s no coincidence the changes are taking place in Indiana, where basketball is treated like royalty. The Pacers are hosting their first All-Star Game since 1985—three years later than initially scheduled because the 2021 game was moved to Atlanta and played in mostly empty arena during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If there ever was a place to restore the NBA to something that seemed more classic it was an All-Star Game at Indianapolis,” Silver said. “Let’s just make it a pure 48-minute basketball game, the team that scores the most point in 48 minutes.”
Pacers Sports & Entertainment owner Steve Simon also shared during the event that tickets are now on sale for NBA Crossover, a fan event that will be held at the Indiana Convention Center throughout All-Star Weekend. Tickets for adults will be sold for $24 each through Thursday as part of a promotional offer through NBAevents.com. After the promotion, the price will increase to $40 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under.
The NBA All-Star 2024 Host Committee has also set a new legacy project in partnership with the league. That venture will see a new NBA Cares Live, Learn and Play Center at Christamore House in Haughville, as well as an updated basketball court, a new wellness space and the creation of a science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, lab.
Tickets for all of the weekend’s events are expected to go on sale within the next 30 days. In total, more than 150,000 tickets will be available for the events—a rise of more than 20% from previous All-Star weekends.
The events at Gainbridge Fieldhouse include the All-Star Game, the NBA Rising Stars event, practices and media day, and the HBCU Classic for historically black colleges and universities. The celebrity game and All-Star Saturday Night events like the dunk contest and three-point contest will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium.