Indy's NBA All-Star Weekend 2021 won't go on as scheduled

It was expected to have an economic impact of around $100 million.

NBA All-Star Weekend 2021 — scheduled for Feb. 12-14, 2021 in Indianapolis — will not be held as scheduled, an NBA spokesperson told Fieldhouse Files.

“Given the uncertainty surrounding the schedule for the 2020-21 NBA season, we and the Indiana Pacers informed our hotel partners in Indianapolis that NBA All-Star 2021 is unlikely to take place on Presidents’ Day weekend so they could make other arrangements. More information about next season’s schedule, including NBA All-Star, will be announced at a later date.”

Last Friday, Aug. 14 was exactly six months before the All-Star game and the league had decisions to make on contracts, including with downtown hotels. By releasing those hotel rooms, the NBA signals that it has moved on from those February dates.

The 2020 NBA playoffs began Monday afternoon in Florida and will conclude in October. The league tentatively plans to begin next season in December, but it’s unclear what it might look like. And the NBA cannot schedule an All-Star game without having its next season in place first.

Without a positive test for COVID-19 in more than four weeks, playing inside of a bubble works — but are they able and willing to complete a season that way? Is there a need for an All-Star game if next season has a condensed schedule? And better yet, is it worth having if fans are unable to attend?

After all, the weekend is for the fans.

The following statement from Pacers Sports & Entertainment president & COO Rick Fuson was provided to Fieldhouse Files:

“We have been working with the NBA since 2017 to bring our fans and our city this world-class event, just as we did when we last hosted in 1985. While it appears NBA All-Star 2021 is unlikely to happen on Presidents’ Day weekend, we are excited about continuing to collaborate with the NBA as we look to the future.”

Chicago served as host to the event in February, one of the last major sporting events attended by fans before the shutdown due to COVID-19.

The NBA has already scheduled the next two hosts — 2022 in Cleveland and 2023 in Salt Lake City.

This is another blow to Indianapolis and its economy. Conventions aren’t happening and big sporting events continue to be postponed.

Indianapolis was hosting the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament last March when everything stopped due to the coronavirus. The 2020 NCAA tournament was then canceled. That cost local businesses millions because the city was a regional site for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The latest domino was knocked over last week when the Big Ten postponed its fall sports season, which includes the football championship game scheduled for December 5th at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Once that was decided, the 70th NBA All-Star game was on the clock — and it didn’t take long for the league to follow suit.

The NBA officially awarded Indianapolis its second All-Star weekend on Dec. 13, 2017. Since that time, they have created a host committee of more than 300 volunteers, provided grants up to $50,000 to 21 different youth-serving organizations across Indiana and renovations are ahead of scheduled at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Indy first hosted the event in 1985. It was expected to have an estimated economic impact, based on previous host cities, of around $100 million.

WISH-TV first reported that the NBA had canceled contracts with local hotels.