It’s been an exciting couple of months for basketball fans in North Carolina, and it looks like the fun is just beginning.
Per the team’s website, the Hornets’ management plans on submitting a bid to host either All-Star Weekend in 2017 or 2018. The Hornets held a press conference this morning and officially announced their decision. The franchise, along with the Charlotte Sports Foundation (CSF), will send a group of representatives, including beloved mascot Hugo the Hornet to New York City today to formally submit the bid.
Charlotte hasn’t hosted an All-Star Game since 1991–three years after the Hornets’ birth in ’88. Now, in what will be three years after their rebirth, management is hoping for the same fate.
According to their official report, the city of Charlotte ranks first in the sports industry , with two highly grossing teams in the Hornets and Carolina Panthers, as well as a number of different networks and attractions having their bases in the Queen City. Hosting All-Star weekend has shown to have overwhelmingly positive results for the cities that have previously held it; in 2012, Florida’s Orange County was impacted by more than $95 million when Orlando hosted the event, and 2250 full time jobs were created.
One of the NBA’s most up-and-coming teams, the Hornets would be the perfect club to have the All-Star Game played on their home court. Their new logo and design epitomize the modern and even futuristic look that other rebranding teams have attempted to employ over the past few seasons.
Additionally, the Hornets very-well may have one or more players elected to the All-Star Game at that time. Lance Stephenson was recently inked to a three-year deal with the team, meaning his final season in the teal and purple would be the 2016-2017 season. After his fantastic play last year with the Indiana Pacers which included a league-best five triple-doubles, the 23 year old getting a nod this year wouldn’t be a surprise, never mind three seasons from now, when he is set to enter his prime.
The contract of fan favorite center Al Jefferson–who almost single-handedly turned the team around last year–is set to expire at the end of the 2015-2016 season, but if the Hornets continue to progress as they are projected to, seeing him extend wouldn’t be a surprise at all. Of course, fourth-year point guard and franchise cornerstone Kemba Walker has already shown signs of being an elite floor general, and Charlotte will likely do whatever it takes to keep him around in his 2015-2016 restricted free agency.
Fred Whitfield, Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & COO, believes that between eight and 10 teams will submit a bid to host the NBA’s biggest event in 2017, but as early as two months from now, only three or four teams will remain in the race. The final decision will come in the fall of 2015.
Its the dawn of a new era for Charlotte basketball, and having 2017′s All-Star Weekend held at the Time Warner Cable Arena would show everyone what the town has to offer, and help put #BuzzCity back on the NBA map.