It isn’t done. But it’s close.
New Orleans officials are closing in on a deal with the NBA to host the 2017 All Star Game and are in the process of ironing out details, multiple league sources told The Advocate on Tuesday.
If everything goes to plan, there is a formal announcement expected to take place early next week, sources said.
The game is scheduled for Feb. 19.
The NBA formally removed the All Star Game from Charlotte on July 22 because of concerns about North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which eliminated anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In the wake of the decision, New Orleans was immediately floated as a potential landing spot for the game, because of its experience hosting the event in 2008 and 2014 plus the rapid turnaround required to execute the various events.
New Orleans Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha publicly expressed the franchise’s desire to bring the game back to the Smoothie King Center during an episode of the Black and Blue Report (the team’s in-house podcast) and said the Pelicans were doing “doing everything we can” to host the event.
It appears that effort is on the precipice of paying off.
The Pelicans are working with the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, SMG, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to make the final push. It’s a cooperative infrastructure that gives New Orleans "a decided advantage over other markets" in its pitch to land the game, Lauscha said.
“It's a very short time frame,” Lauscha said on the podcast. “I mean, this is going to be on us very quickly, so I know they want to get that decided and we want to know so we can start shifting resources and assets to make this a successful game.”