[Source: Associated Press] — Phoenix officials feel next year’s NBA All Star game will help highlight the downtown area while bringing some needed cash. The hope is the game showcases the neighborhood’s resurgence, helps drum up interest in future city investment and exposes locals to what downtown offers, organizers say. City boosters plan to make downtown the heart of the All-Star Week celebration, which culminates with the Feb. 15 game.
Activities tied to the NBA All-Star Game will take place almost exclusively in downtown Phoenix. The teams will sleep at the new 1,000-room Sheraton. A basketball theme park, called Jam Session, will take over the convention center’s new North Building for five days. In addition to the Sheraton and the convention-center expansion, the light-rail line will be rolling, something city officials are excited about. “I think that it’s the unveiling of the new downtown Phoenix, its premiere,” Mayor Phil Gordon said. “The Super Bowl — a phenomenal opportunity for the Valley and for Phoenix, and we benefited immensely — but it was a wide-angle view.”
Phoenix estimates that based on previous All-Star Games, the event could attract $40 million in direct spending and up to an $80 million boost to the region. Downtown Phoenix has changed dramatically over the past five years, but many metro Phoenix residents have stayed away because of road construction headaches and other hassles. “One of the best things you can do to get your downtown vibrant is to get your locals talking about it,” said Steve Moore, president and chief executive of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. Phoenix last hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1995.