Indiana Pacers President Rick Fuson is headed to Toronto next week to take a look at NBA All-Star Game operations.
It’s the first outward sign the Pacers and perhaps the city have a serious interest in hosting the NBA All-Star Game for the first time since 1985. That year it was hosted in the new RCA Dome.
This year’s All-Star Game is Feb. 14, but the events run three days.
Charlotte has already secured the 2017 All-Star Game, but NBA officials said the 2018 event is up for grabs.
This is the first NBA All-Star Game Fuson has attended in three years.
“I’m going to get a better feel for what Toronto is doing and what the NBA is doing to put on this wonderful NBA All-Star weekend,” Fuson told IBJ on Tuesday.
Fuson, one of the planners of the 1985 NBA All-Star Game, said he’ll be looking at all aspects of the operation, from the game and ancillary events such as the slam dunk and three-point contests, to events that happen in conjunction with the weekend, including parties and other red-carpet events. He's also consider what’s required of the host city including such things as convention center space, hotel rooms and security.
The NBA All-Star weekend has become exponentially bigger since Indianapolis last hosted the event.
In some ways, Fuson said, he’s simply going to Toronto as a spectator.
“I’m going to go like a fan and a tourist,” Fuson said. All-Star weekend "has a massive schedule during the weekend and I’m looking forward to it.”
If the Pacers and city officials get serious about an NBA All-Star Game bid, it’s not clear who the competition will be. Even Fuson isn’t sure what other cities might be looking at the event for 2018 and beyond.
The Pacers seem to have an inside track if team owner Herb Simon wants to pursue the event. In December, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told IBJ that he endorses the idea of bringing the event to Indianapolis.
Silver said he’s had informal talks with Pacers officials recently about hosting All-Star weekend and that those discussions “have been received very well by me.”
“What would make Indianapolis a great place for the NBA All-Star Game are the same things that made it a great place for the NCAA championships and a Super Bowl,” he said. “People think of Indianapolis as a world-class sports town.”
Bankers Life Fieldhouse would be a great venue to host the game and other All-Star weekend activities, Silver added.
Recent host cities estimated the economic impact of All-Star weekend between $70 million and $100 million, which is about a fourth of a Super Bowl’s economic impact.
“The All-Star Game would be a tremendous event to show how great a city Indianapolis is,” Fuson said. “It would also have a great economic impact.”