How long has it been since Chicago has hosted an All-Star Weekend?
Well, they were in a different building in 1988, and Michael Jordan had hair—albeit thinning, but he hadn’t gone bald yet.
That will change in 2020 when the United Center will host the ever-growing All-Star Weekend, according to league sources. The 1988 spectacle that took place at Chicago Stadium was a launching point of sorts for the NBA, with Jordan winning an epic slam-dunk contest over Dominique Wilkins and then winning MVP of the All-Star Game the next day with a 40-point performance.
Between the game, Larry Bird’s iconic 3-point shootout performance and the collection of All-Star players, which could’ve been the greatest ever, the 2020 weekend has a lot to live up to.
The momentum was increasing in recent years, especially with the atrium being finished inside the United Center—which the NBA will surely use as a way to engage fans to get out of the bitter February cold.
Chicago has been home to the NFL Draft in 2015 and 2016, getting rave reviews for its handling of an estimated 100,000 people each year to the downtown area in late-April, along with its bid for the 2016 Olympic Games that was placed over a decade ago.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf will be present at the “major announcement” Friday afternoon at the United Center, and one can assume they played a major part in pushing Chicago’s candidacy to the NBA as Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf was previously on record as being against hosting an All-Star Weekend.
Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Orlando and New Orleans have hosted All-Star weekend recently, cities that didn’t have to worry much about weather being a factor.
Toronto and New York City also hosted it recently and the league and its sponsors were better prepared for the inconveniences that can arise. Apparently, Chicago was likely able to assuage those concerns along with providing a burgeoning area around the United Center that has grown in recent years.
The last time Chicago hosted the event, it could be best considered a gathering. Now, it’s a worldwide extravaganza that requires multiple buildings in different areas, something Chicago is well-equipped for.
It’ll be a huge party—one that will have people packing their parkas to spend a weekend in Chicago.