Sacramento Sees Future at All-Star Weekend

Posted by Chris Lehane on 26 June 2012

The dream becomes real in Orlando this All-Star Weekend, on display for Sacramento to see and take notes.

Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, Three-Pointer and Slam Dunk contests fill the air, making audiences leap with pleasure while cash registers hum.

And that's just for Saturday.

There's a reason why cities elbow each other out of position for hosting rights to the NBA All-Star Weekend. They are not star-struck over celebrities or "gaga" over hoops.

It's about showing the money.

And the money's not only getting shown this weekend in Central Florida, it's being thrown, spread, slipped, tossed and burned. NBA fans are ripping through piles of cash - enough to require a fleet of armored trucks to service the action.

Imagine all this happening in Sacramento.

The dream could come true, unfolding over the next few days and weeks when Mayor Johnson and City officials try to hammer down details to build a new Entertainment and Sports Complex downtown. Based on our financing plan, there will be three entities that make up the public-private partnership: the team; the operator; and the City. At this point, the City has effectively executed on its critical path. Sacramento has delivered on a financing that does not impose taxes; that will protect the general fund; and which will generate real jobs and economic development. From what we have seen, the operator is prepared to meet its expected obligation. To make this deal happen, the team will need to be prepared to participate in this public-private partnership at a level that represents a fair contribution, especially since the City, through the leasing of its parking, has designed a plan that allows the team to benefit from the economics of the arena (thereby, allowing them to be a viable, competitive entity).

The NBA loves its All-Star Weekend -- who wouldn't, with the fun and money generated? And the league has brilliantly used the event to celebrate its newest arenas.

From 2006 to next year's game in Houston, the league will have staged eight All-Star games in four buildings constructed in the new millennium.

The big story here in Orlando (aside from how Mayor Johnson and a negotiating team being led by City Manager John Shirey is working to keep the Kings where they belong) is all about the new Amway Center, which has become the focal point of the resurgence of downtown.

The NBA knows that pumping economic development and investment into its franchise cities helps the game.

The past few All-Star weekends have been major money makers, with the average economic impact of one weekend exceeding $100 million. according to multiple sources, including Micronomics, Marketing Information Masters and the Atlantic.

Two years ago, the phenomenal All-Star break in Dallas created an amazing impact of $268.5 million, thanks to the massive size of the venue, Cowboys Stadium.

But even without a football stadium, you get the point: Sacramento would clean up with an All-Star Weekend, generating about one-quarter of the total cash required to build the new ESC in just one weekend.

That's the dream. It's amazing, and within our reach.

Obviously, All-Star Weekend requires more than a new building. There are hotel and guest accommodations that must be considered. Sacramento has work to do in other departments. But the spark never changes -- nothing happens without a new ESC.

The Think Big team is seeing the dream this weekend, live and in three dimensions.

When the new ESC opens in 2015, the dream comes home. And that is why Sacramento is thinking big, being big and acting big.