CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After months of buildup, it's finally here and Charlotte will play host to the biggest sporting event the city has ever seen -- the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.
By every measure, the showcase will have a huge impact on the city with more than 150,000 visitors and 1,800 media members coming to the Queen City for the festivities.
To put that number in perspective, 150,000 is more than twice the capacity of Bank of America Stadium.
"So we want every member of this community to remember what we're known for which is hospitality in a very good southern way," said Mayor Vi Lyles.
It all adds up to an expected $100 million impact on Charlotte. 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.
But even if you have no plans to check out all the action, chances are you will still be affected by all of the extra hustle and bustle.
Here's what you need to know for the event starting Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17.
It goes without saying that the influx of visitors will create traffic headaches, especially around uptown.
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.
"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."
Streets surrounding Spectrum Center are shut down for the entire weekend.
- 4th St. and 6th St. at Caldwell and Brevard
- East Trade St.
- East 5th St.
Charlotte DOT plans to tweet any updates on closures. Officials said parking will likely be limited.
"If you do not need to travel to uptown during this time, please avoid the area," officials said.
Drivers were also urged to avoid Independence Blvd. and the Bojangles' Coliseum on Friday afternoon.
E-scooters and bicycles will not be allowed in areas around the center.
The Transit Center for buses will be temporarily relocated to the 7th Street Station.
Designated Uber and Lyft drop-off locations will be altered:
- Bojangles' Coliseum -- Independence Blvd. on Paul Buck Blvd.
- Spectrum Center -- 3rd and 8th Ave.
The Spectrum Center light rail station will close each day of All-Star weekend at 5 p.m. Also, riders passing by the 3rd and 7th Street Stations will have to get off the train momentarily for a security sweep.
On the light rail, purses, tote bags, and backpacks will not be allowed starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
There are also several things you cannot bring into the Spectrum Center.
- All bags including briefcases, luggage, and backpacks
- Diaper bags and purses must be smaller than 14" x 14" x 6"
You might remember that Charlotte was supposed to host the All-Star Game in 2017. Backlash over the controversial House Bill 2 led to the game being moved to New Orleans. As it turns out, that extra time might have been a blessing in disguise for Charlotte.
Since that time, Charlotte's skyline has grown with six new hotels opening in the last two years, providing more than 1,000 rooms in uptown. That brought the total up to 24 hotels and more than 5,500 rooms.
And with over 150,000 people expected to be in the Queen City for the game, you might be in trouble if you're looking for a hotel inside the I-485 loop. As part of its agreement with the city, the NBA has booked nearly 320,0000 rooms in 28 hotels from February 7-18.
According to the NBA, they have rooms in 19 uptown hotels and some people are staying near Tryon and Tyvola, SouthPark and near Bojangles' Coliseum.
Folks are also renting out their homes. Airbnb estimates nearly 3,500 guests Friday through Sunday.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers are in charge of keeping everyone out of harm's way. By the end of the weekend, the department could become the real MVP.
"We want to make sure that not only that the people that are coming in are safe," an officer said.
Here are some security tips:
- Follow instructions from uniformed safety and security personnel, police officers or fire officials. When possible, walk in groups and avoid low-lit areas.
- Keep track of your belongings in taxis and be sure to monitor your personal items in public places – never leave your property unattended.
- Review the fire/life safety procedures at your hotel and keep your hotel room door secured at all times.
- Make a copy of your passport, credit and debit cards in the event they are lost.
To report illegal or suspicious activity, or in the event of an emergency, dial 911.
You’ll want to be smart about purchasing tickets to games and events. Tons of resale tickets are hitting sites like Nextdoor and Craiglist.
Attorney General Josh Stein said to be careful when buying tickets on the secondary market. Use a company, versus buying from individuals he warned.
“There will be scam artists that come in and print tickets that look absolutely real. And the only time you find out it doesn’t work is when you got to get in the facility and it won’t pass the bar code.”
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Bojangles' Coliseum
MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars at Spectrum Center
NBA All-Star Practice and Media day at Bojangles Coliseum
Doors: 9:00 am
Event (media): 9:30am
Event (practice): 12:00pm
Lunch with a legend at Charlotte Convention Center
Event: 11:00am - 2:00pm
State Farm All-Star Night at Spectrum Center
Pre-game hospitaloity at Charlotte Convention Center
Event: 5:00pm - 7:00 pm
68th NBA All-Star Game at Spectrum Center
The 2019 NBA All-Star Game will be broadcast live on TNT at 8 p.m. on Sunday, February 17.
North Carolina native J. Cole and Meek Mill will headline the event. The NBA announced Meek Mill will take the stage for player introductions before Grammy Award winner and Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton performs the national anthem. Carly Rae Jepsen will follow Hamilton with the Canadian national anthem.
At halftime, J. Cole will perform a medley of his hits. The seven-time Grammy nominee has had five number one albums on the Billboard Top 200, including 2018's "KOD." His latest single, "Middle Child," was released on January 23.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:00 PM – Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 2:00
Location: Ink n Ivy -- 222 South Church Street Charlotte, NC 28202
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 8:00 PM – Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:00 AM
Location: Epicentre- 210 East Trade Street Charlotte, NC 28202
Fri, February 15, 2019 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: Vibrations Nightclub
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:00 PM –Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:00 AM
Location: Roxbury -- 116 West 5th Street Charlotte, NC 28202
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:00 PM – Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:00 AM
Location: Wild Wing Cafe Epicentre 210 E Trade Street #A Charlotte, NC 28202
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 9:00 PM – Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 2:00 AM
Location: Founders Hall -- 100 North Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 28202