CHARLOTTE – City and county officials say Charlotte is “All-Star Ready” to host the 68th annual NBA All-Star Game.
The actual game is Feb. 17 at the Spectrum Center, but the event will span three days and 150,000 people are expected to flock to the city Feb. 15 to 17. That means numerous street closures and heightened security in and around the Spectrum Center. Events, both public and private, will be held around the city, including a fan fest at the Epicenter that has already signed up 25,000 people for the event.
City and county officials expect the NBA All-Star Game will pump $100 million into the region’s economy.
“I’m All-Star ready and let’s show not just our city, but our state, and our country that we are all-star ready,” Mayor Vi Lyles said. “We wake up every morning thinking about the safety of our residents and guests. We are going to make sure that this is a great event. The NBA is going to put us on center stage in a global sense.”
A security perimeter will be set up around the Spectrum Center beginning Feb. 14 and several roads around the arena will close Feb. 15 and remain closed throughout the event. Those roads include East Trade Street in front of the arena, Fourth and Sixth streets at Caldwell and Brevard and East Fifth Street on the other side of the arena.
The Charlotte Transportation Center next to the Spectrum Center will be closed Feb. 15 to 17 and will move to a temporary location across from the Seventh Street Station Parking Deck. Passengers using the light rail will have to exit trains at either Third Street or Seventh Street for security sweeps before continuing on.
Suitcases, tote bags, backpacks and other bulky items will not be allowed on Lynx Blue Line trains or at stations during the event. Bicycles and E-Scooters will not be allowed in areas around the Spectrum Center.
Several events, including media day, the NBA All-Star Game open practice and the Rising Stars Game, which features the NBA’s best rookies and second-year players, will be held at Bojangles Coliseum on Independence Boulevard.
“We do expect major congestion and we do have a secure traffic plan,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings. “There is going to be some major traffic delays specifically Friday for Independence Boulevard. Independence is a very active roadway and with events going on we ask that if all possible to avoid Independence Boulevard on Friday (Feb. 15) afternoon. We are going to move it along the best we can and we have a plan to do that.”
Jennings is encouraging people attending NBA All-Star Game events to take advantage of public transportation, taxi and ride-sharing services. There will be several taxi and ride-sharing drop off and pickup locations near the Spectrum Center and at Bojangles.
Jennings said people attending events surrounding the NBA All-Star Game should walk in groups, keep track of their belongings and avoid low-lit areas.
“Certainly, public safety on the CMPD side is the No. 1 priority for us,” Jennings said. “We will have our officers at pretty much every event. Charlotte is ready.”
Jennings also said some businesses in Uptown will allow employees to work from home or take Feb. 15 off.
“I know that some of the major businesses in Uptown have had communications with their employees to give them options so they don’t have to drive downtown,” Jennings said. “That is going to benefit us greatly, and we are looking forward to seeing how that all plays out and work. I think it will assist with our traffic plan.”
Lyles said money spent on security and other changes will be gained back from the economic impact of hosting the game.
“When we are hosting this kind of event, we look at it as a benefit,” Lyles said. “We gain all that back from the $100 million of economic impact. People will be paying those hospitality taxes and there will opportunities for people to earn more.”
On the web: www.allstarweek endcharlotte.com.