Phoenix adds 2027 NBA All-Star Game to its list of star-studded sporting events

After the announcement Thursday that the NBA All-Star Game would be coming to Phoenix in 2027, Suns All-Star jerseys were displayed by, from left, Suns and Mercury CEO Josh Bartelstein, Gov. Katie Hobbs, Suns and Mercury majority owner Mat Ishbia and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. (Photo by Mariah Cox/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – On a day where Grayson Allen made eight 3-pointers for the second game in a row, and the Phoenix Suns defeated the Toronto Raptors to keep their automatic playoff bid alive, the biggest news at Footprint Center Thursday had nothing to do with the game.

A few hours before thousands of high-energy fans could be found cheering on their beloved Suns, a much smaller audience gathered in the arena’s lobby to await a special announcement from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who was alongside Suns owner Mat Ishbia and Gov. Katie Hobbs.

“It’s my honor to announce that the 2027 NBA All-Star game will be here at the Footprint Center,” Silver said as an outburst of cheers drowned out the final words of his sentence.

Hosting NBA All-Star Weekend is big news for any city, but the timing of the announcement is what makes it particularly significant for Phoenix.

Last year, more than 100,000 out-of-state visitors flooded the desert for the 2023 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. In April,State Farm Stadium in Glendale will host college basketball’s most prestigious four-team slate before Footprint Center dips its toes into WNBA All-Star Weekend in July.

With the nearby metropolises of Los Angeles and Las Vegas recently breaking the bank to build new state-of-the-art facilities, some are concerned the Phoenix area will soon be an afterthought destination for some of the biggest events in sports.

However, Hobbs and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who recorded a message for those at the press conference, believe there is still no better host than the Valley.

“Arizona has shown time and time again that we’re the best, most unique place to host these major sporting events,” Hobbs said. “Not only that, you have some of the most energetic sports fans in the country, especially for basketball. Put those things together, and I’m confident that the NBA All-Star game in 2027 will be the best one in years.”

Gallego added, “We’ll also use this as a chance to tell the story of Phoenix through what a great sports city we are but also great jobs, a great place to visit, and so much more.”

That’s what these events are all about. The city of Phoenix, and the community as a whole. Ishbia and Hobbs believe NBA All-Star Weekend will have close to a $400 million impact on the state, and when Ishbia took over as the owner of the Suns and Mercury, his mission was to provide something special for the community as soon as possible.

Last year’s All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, generated $294 million of economic benefit to Utah, according to a Temple University report.

“It’s the city’s teams,” Ishbia said. “The Suns. The Mercury. They aren’t my teams, but our teams, the city’s. It’s all about what a fan would want, and many would love to see the best players in the world come for the women this year and for the men in a couple of years.”

Like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Phoenix boasts plenty of tourism hot spots that make it a prime location for major events. While that certainly plays a role in a commissioner’s decision-making, Ishbia’s people-first mentality is what helped push those decisions for Silver into fruition.

“It matters a lot to us how badly a community and city and ownership want the event,” Silver said.

“We know they have the hotels, event space, golf courses and all that. We’ve been here many times, but the single most important factor was the enthusiasm from Mat.”

With Ishbia buying the Suns at the end of 2022, Silver noted that he believes this is the quickest any owner has accomplished hosting both the WNBA and NBA All-Star games. However, the NBA All-Star Game’s return to Phoenix has been the opposite.

The 2027 summer will mark 18 years since the Valley of the Sun was the valley of the stars. Some fans have now grown old, and some fans weren’t even born. A lot has changed over this hosting drought. Arizona has amassed over one million more citizens, potentially meaning a plethora of new fans who are eager to see their first NBA All-Star Weekend in person.

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The NBA world has gone through massive changes itself since 2009, which was when the Suns called U.S. Airways Center their home. The newly renovated Footprint Center was no more than a figment of someone’s imagination. All of the All-Stars from that year are out of the league with the notable exceptions of LeBron James and Chris Paul. Unless James chooses to continue playing – which who knows at this point – it will be a brand new batch of players living out their first All-Star Weekend experience in Phoenix.

For Silver, it will also be his first All-Star experience in Phoenix since taking over commissioner duties in 2014. As a result, he hopes to create an everlasting experience for all of Arizona.

“It’s (All-Star Weekend) evolved to all sorts of events,” Silver said. “The game itself, to the Saturday and Friday night activities.

“You know, we were all just in Indianapolis, and I think the Simon family did a great job from the beginning of the season making it a statewide event. There’s so much basketball played across the state between both boys and girls, men and women, and I’d love to do the same thing throughout Arizona.”

As eager as the community may be, there are still two stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles before the All-Star train arrives in Phoenix. In the meantime, the 2024 NCAA men’s Final Four and WNBA All-Star Game will keep the national sports scene electric in the Valley. However, once both have passed, it might be a bit hard for Ishbia to wait.

“I can’t wait,” Ishbia said. “I know it’s three years from now, but I’m already excited about the opportunity.”

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Brett Lapinski expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Lapinski interned at Varsity Sports Show, where he was a digital reporter/social media producer.

Mariah Cox(she/her)
Sports Digital Producer, Phoenix

Mariah Cox expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Cox was a media relations intern for Sun Devil Athletics.