Think Your Rinky-Dink Three-Horse Flyover Burg Can Host An NBA All-Star Weekend? Think Again

The NBA brought the moderately whelming delights of its All-Star weekend this season to Indianapolis, North America’s 42nd-ranked metropolitan area by population and approximately the least-sexy place on the continent that is still allowed to consider itself a city. Perhaps this has given you some hope that the entirely wack glorified office park you commute into and out of each day can host an upcoming All-Star event. Maybe you’ve daydreamed of hobnobbing for one glorious weekend with hoops glitterati and sitting courtside with your sad-sack buds, dishing celebratory high-fives to the game’s best players at one of the league’s big marquee events.

Bad news, pal: According to a report from Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman, the NBA has notified at least one forgettable flyover piece-of-crap town that updated criteria for All-Star host cities now effectively exclude all but a small handful of big impressive population centers and tourism hubs. Oklahoma City, which expects to open a new downtown arena by the start of the 2029–30 season, had hoped to get on the list of future All-Star hosts. Unfortunately for Oklahomans but fortunately for everyone else, the NBA now considers Oklahoma City to lack the necessary tourism infrastructure for such an assignment. Having a fancy new building to show off is now only one small part of the equation; per Mussatto, you now need lots of hotel rooms, acres and acres of convention exhibition space under one roof, and nonstop flights from pretty much anywhere anyone would ever want to visit:

The most significant requirements, per an NBA spokesperson, include: 

1. 7,250 hotel rooms and a minimum of three five-star hotels. 

2. Convention center of 650,000 square feet of exhibition space. 

3. 75 nonstop domestic flights and at least 20 international flights. 

The Oklahoman

Right now you are stomping up and down and shouting about how there’s no way in hell Indianapolis, of all places, has all of that stuff. You would be correct: Mussatto says Indianapolis lacks the non-stop flights to qualify under the current criteria. Luckily for the hoops fans of Indianapolis, the NBA schedules its All-Star weekends years in advance, and Indianapolis won this hosting job way back in 2017, long before the new criteria were put into place. In fact, many places that have previously hosted All-Star festivities would be hit with the “too small” if they attempted to get back on the list today. Detroit and Charlotte, for example, appear to lack the hotel capacity; Cleveland appears to come up well short of the international flight routes; Minneapolis lacks the exhibition space. Syracuse, which hosted the event in 1961, may or may not still exist today. Daly City (1967) is a place that I have never even heard of before.

Long gone are the days when folksy non-destinations like Rochester and Richfield and Fort Wayne could have their time in the NBA spotlight; now joining those places in obscurity are a not-insignificant number of towns whose residents have paid tax dollars to host active NBA franchises. It would almost break your heart, except that the NBA All-Star Game itself is a boring mess that even the league’s commissioner hates. Consider yourselves lucky, residents of Oklahoma City!

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