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NBA All-Star game expected to be a slam dunk for L.A.'s economy

NBA All-Star game expected to be a slam dunk for L.A.'s economy
Kobe Bryant, No. 24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference, dunks in front of LeBron James, No. 6 of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference, in the second half of the 2011 NBA All-Star game at Staples Center in 2011. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

The NBA All-Star game at Staples Center this weekend is expected to generate $116 million in spending by visiting and local basketball fans, a 36% increase over the economic impact seven years ago when Los Angeles last hosted the event.

The three-day hoops celebration is expected to draw 110,000 people to the events, with about a third of all celebrants coming from outside of the region, according to a study by Micronomics, a Los Angeles research and consulting firm. Visitors are expected to book 27,000 room nights for the event, the study said.

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The event, running from Friday to Sunday, will showcase improvements made around the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center, where hundreds of new hotels and restaurants have been built in an area of downtown Los Angeles once dominated by warehouses and shuttered buildings.

“It’s been the best possible time to be selling L.A.,” said Kathryn Schloessman, president of the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission, which works to draw major sporting and entertainment events to the city. The group also paid for the Micronomics study.

The NBA events themselves — including the All-Star game, the slam dunk contest and other performances — are expected to generate about $26 million for the local economy with an additional $90 million coming from spending by visitors on food, drinks and accommodations, the study said.

The final economic impact number includes a “multiplier effect,” which takes into consideration spending by workers who benefit from the event, such as limousine drivers, waiters and hotel workers.

The NBA All-Star game was last in Los Angeles in 2011, when the event sparked $85 million in spending, Micronomics said.

The 36% increase in spending between 2011 and 2018 is attributed to several factors including more events added to the celebration, new restaurant and hotel options in Los Angeles and a more positive economic outlook by visitors who are more comfortable spending money now, local tourism experts say.

Among new events, the NBA All-Star celebration will sell tickets to a practice workout by the star players and a match between players on the NBA’s minor league teams, plus several community outreach events throughout Southern California.

“The increase is expected with higher prices and other things, such as the economy doing better and more hotels,” said Joe Hale, a senior research associate at Micronomics who co-authored the study. “It’s just a positive event for the local economy.”

Schloessman said the basketball celebration underscores how popular Los Angeles has become as a host for sporting spectacles.

The new Los Angeles Stadium in Inglewood will host the NFL Super Bowl in 2022. The Los Angeles Country Club near the UCLA campus is hosting the U.S. Open golf championship in 2023. Sporting venues across Southern California will host events for the Olympic and the Paralympic Games in 2028.

“We want to keep them coming,” Schloessman said.

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