About the time Hollywood’s biggest stars are hitting the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday night, the NBA’s best and brightest will be taking the court 3,000 miles away.
The 61st NBA All-Star Game caps an All-Star weekend in Orlando where the weekend series of NBA events is expected to pump $100 million into the local economy. It’s the second time Orlando has hosted the game. The first came 20 years ago when Magic Johnson, just months after announcing he was HIV positive and had to retire, returned to play and was named the game’s MVP.
The weekend kicks off with the NBA Jam Session fan fest Thursday through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center. Tickets with face values from $12 for kids to $30 for adults were going for $25–$45 on StubHub.
What had been a game featuring the NBA’s best rookies taking on the best second-year players has been tweaked this year. The Friday match-up has been revamped as the Rising Stars Challenge. It now features first and second-year players each drafted into 10-man teams by TNT analysts and NBA legends Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.
Adding to the new format is the inclusion of Jeremy Lin, the second-year sensation from Harvard. He’ll team with Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, the 2011 rookie of the year, on Team Shaq. Team Chuck features the No. 1 picks in the past two drafts, guards John Wall (2010) of the Washington Wizards and Kyrie Irving (2011) of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Blake [Griffin] and Lin make that a bigger deal than normal,” Jimmy Siegendorf, president and CEO of Premium Seats USA in Hollywood, Florida, told TicketNews.
Tickets to the Rising Stars Challenge at the Amway Center are averaging $144.22 on the secondary market, according to TiqIQ, with a get-in price of $55. Face value is $35 and $50. The game follows the All-Star Celebrity Game, which is Friday at 7 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center.
Perhaps more memorable than the winner between East and West each year at the All-Star Game is the Slam Dunk Contest, one of the skills competitions at All-Star Saturday. Last year, Griffin won the title with his now-famous dunk over a car. He won’t be defending his title Saturday and the roster for the contest this year lacks star power.
Other skills contest include the three-point shooting competition and the Shooting Stars contest, which features teams made up of a current NBA player, a retired player, and a WNBA player.
This year’s All-Star weekend almost didn’t happen. As the lockout dragged on into December 2011 and nearly canceled the season, the league’s showcase mid-season event was also threatened. When the lockout ended, the regular season schedule was abbreviated to 66 games, but the schedule of All-Star events was kept intact.
The uncertainty surrounding the season has largely been forgotten as Kobe, LeBron, and the rest of the NBA’s best hit the floor at the Amway Center. Ticket prices on the secondary market, while still high compared to regular season games, are down somewhat from last year in Los Angeles.
Siegendorf told TicketNews that while the lockout has been a factor, he’s pleased with his All-Star sales.
“It might be a little down from previous years,” Siegendorf said. “The lockout had an impact on the corporate market. They have to make their plans well in advance and they weren’t sure there would even be a season just a few months ago.”
According to ticket search site, TiqIQ.com, the average resale ticket price for the All-Star Game is $1,138.73, down 38 percent from last year’s average of $1,720.70 for the game in L.A. The “get-in” price of $388 is down about 33 percent from last year ($578). Tickets have a face value of $750 for the Amway Center’s lower bowl and $500 for upper.
TiqIQ’s highest-priced regular season game so far this season was the Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks match-up Wednesday, February 22. With the sudden rise of Knicks guard Jeremy Lin fueling a surge in Knicks’ ticket prices, the average price for that game was $740.70. In fact, thanks to the Lin factor, four of TiqIQ’s five most expensive NBA tickets this season are Knicks games.
Siegendorf spoke as he was wrapping up sales on All-Star packages that include tickets to the game and All-Star Friday and Saturday events.
“Sales have been good,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of activity on it. There’s been a lot of local interest here in Florida. Orlando is a touristy, transient market and that the event is there is a bonus. Here in South Florida, it’s only a 2–3 hour drive away.”
StubHub.com statistics showed 42 percent of its All-Star Game ticket purchasers were from Florida, where All-Star Weekend is also competing with the Daytona 500. The NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit’s traditional season opener will be run Sunday about an hour away from Orlando in Daytona Beach, Florida. With most Daytona area hotels sold out, NBA fans and NASCAR fans have had to compete for hotel rooms. The NBA had more than 25,000 Orlando-area rooms booked for its employees. The result has been a hotel price spike similar to what Indianapolis saw for the Super Bowl earlier this month.
All-Star Saturday ticket prices are running higher than last year, according to TiqIQ. The average resale price of $781.33 is 19 percent higher than last year ($656.20).