Stars in the Valley? Phoenix City Council favors hosting NBA, WNBA showcases in near future

Phoenix last hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2009, when Footprint Center transformed into a stage for the league’s biggest stars. After the Phoenix City Council’s 9-0 vote Wednesday to support its return, the showcase could return in 2025. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Valley basketball fans received encouraging news at Wednesday’s city council meeting that could lead to the next major sporting events coming to town.

The city council adopted Resolution 22128 – the resolution to participate in and support bids to host WNBA and NBA All-Star games and related events – with a 9-0 vote.

Hosting an All-Star weekend, which includes the game itself and a number of related lead-up events, is a large economic booster for a city. In addition, major sporting events draw national and international media attention, as well as tens of thousands of spectators.

“(I) have watched firsthand over the years the businesses that have located or expanded into downtown as a result of experiencing Phoenix during previous mega-events,” said Devney Majerle, President and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “We continue to see positive impacts from the local, the national and the international media and visitors who also descended on downtown for the related activities.”

Phoenix has become a hub in recent years for marquee sporting events. Most recently, February’s Super Bowl 57 was held at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The city also hosted NBA All-Star games in 1975, 1995 and 2009 and the second-ever WNBA All-Star Game in 2000, as well as in 2014.

Future sporting events already set to take place in Phoenix include the 2024 NCAA Men’s Final Four and the 2026 Women’s Final Four.

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“We have been known as Championship Valley,” Mayor Kate Gallego said, “because we have the know-how and ability to execute the best major, marquee sporting and mega-events. We have really put our communities on the spotlight. … We’re seeing a lot of investment in downtown, and we’re learning how to more strategically leverage these events, including for economic development and to support our small businesses and highlight those great successes.”

With the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game set to take place in Las Vegas on July 14, and the 2024 NBA All-Star Game scheduled for Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, locations for the 2024 WNBA All-Star Game and 2025 NBA All-Star Game remain up for grabs.

In order to land the opportunity to host, teams are required to place a bid to their respective leagues. The bids include assurances that the city is able to support the event by offering hotel and convention center space, security details, areas for surrounding events and an up-to-date arena capable of entertaining the main event, among other criteria.

Phoenix has no issue checking off the boxes needed to land major events, with this year’s Super Bowl serving as the latest example.

“We’re excited to partner with the City of Phoenix to engage the NBA and WNBA to bring both All-Star games to the Valley,” new Suns and Mercury owner Mat Ishbia said in a statement. “Phoenix is one of the great basketball cities in the world and the perfect place to bring together the players and fans to celebrate the sport. The Phoenix Suns and Mercury want to continue finding new and important ways to partner with the city to bring real impact to our community.”

Now that the Phoenix city government has decided to support the Suns and Mercury to place host bids for future All-Star games, the teams have the green light to reach out to the leagues and cement their interest. At this point, it’s just a waiting process to see which cities the leagues choose.

Other cities with formal bids or reported interest in the NBA All-Star Game include Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Boston, Orlando, San Francisco, Sacramento and Detroit.

“The city of Phoenix’s collaborative approach to executing major events is well-known among national event producers,” Majerle said, “and it truly has become a competitive advantage for landing mega events in the region. We will keep our fingers crossed at Downtown Phoenix Inc. for positive news very soon.”

Josh Bootzin jaw-sh boot-zin (he/him)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Josh Bootzin expects to graduate in December 2023 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. He receive bachelor’s of arts degrees in statistics and creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 and hopes to build a career in data journalism around proficiencies in statistics, print journalism and a love for sports.