CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We're less than two weeks away from the 2019 NBA All-Star Game and Charlotte officials have started finalizing plans for the biggest sporting event the city has ever seen.
By every measure, the NBA showcase will have a huge impact on the city with more than 150,000 visitors and 1,800 media members coming to Charlotte for the festivities. To put that number in perspective, 150,000 is more than twice the capacity of Bank of America Stadium.
If you're looking for a hotel inside the I-485 loop, you might be out of luck. A source told NBC Charlotte that the NBA has blocked nearly 32,000 hotel rooms in the Charlotte area for All-Star weekend.
This all adds up to the expected $100 million impact on the city. In 2012, the All-Star Game pumped $95 million into Orlando, and New Orleans drew $106 million from the event in 2014. The game will also create thousands of part-time jobs, the biggest increase since Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
And it goes without saying that the influx of visitors could create traffic headaches, especially around uptown. All of the streets surrounding Spectrum Center will be shut down for the weekend, allowing only pedestrian traffic.
A section of the I-277 inner loop remains under construction as crews continue to work on a project that started over a year ago to repair 22 bridges around the city. Traffic currently funnels from three lanes to one just before the Caldwell Street and South Boulevard exit before Bank of America Stadium. NCDOT said it will suspend all lane closures during All-Star weekend if the work isn't finished.
Light rail riders coming into the city will need to get off the train before uptown for security sweeps. And the Spectrum Center light rail station will close each day of All-Star weekend at 5 p.m.
"We expect significant traffic associated with this event as you can probably guess," said one Charlotte official. "It'll be both pedestrian and vehicular traffic, it'll be a busy place."
And anyone planning to ride the light rail into the city will not be allowed to bring purses, backpacks, suitcases or any bags of that nature during the weekend.