CHICAGO, Ill. — The NBA All-Star game invades Chicago this weekend, starting with the Rising Stars Game Friday night, but next season the experience comes to Indianapolis.
“We haven’t done this since 1985. It’s so different,” laughs Rick Fuson, President and COO of Pacers Sports Entertainment.
A contingency of Pacers administrators and planners are in the Windy City, as they are trying to learn everything they can from the host city. Pacers brass hopes to turn over every nook and cranny believing they can make it be bigger and better than any city that has hosted the All-Star game before.
“We can’t assume because we’ve done good events in the past, that we can just always do it that way,” Fuson answers.
He believes wireless data and cell phone infrastructure must be sound, and that safety downtown has to be made a premium. There must be enough hotel rooms to satisfy the international spectacle.
Anyone can pop up in town. Lamonty Council has played various roles in movies, and was a reality TV star on VH1’s I Love New York. This weekend, he’s a tour guide and host for the All-Star Game to make sure people find the hottest spots in the city.
“I’m going to be doing all the major hosting at all the major hotels, and guiding people to all the happening things,” says Council through a big smile, “If it’s in Indiana [next year] I’m going to head out that way!”
“We want them to experience more of our city than just the downtown, and hopefully they will,” adds Fuson.
The next year or two will be a big entertainment season for the city. Six weeks after the All-Star Game, the NCAA final four will be in town, followed Big Ten football and the NCAA College football championship.