When news first broke in February that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was bidding to host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, I was pretty confident in Toronto’s chances. When Tim Leiweke, who carries significant weight in NBA circles, joined MLSE and made the 2016 All-Star Game a specific target, I assumed the city had this all but locked up.
On Tuesday, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun broke this
SUN has learned Toronto will land the 2016 NBA all-star game: http://t.co/LLMToZdQvo
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) September 24, 2013
While the decision may not be surprising, it’s still pretty damn exciting for a fan base and city that has been as loyal and passionate as any over the last 18 years.
Sure, a lot of the tickets will be off limits to the average Toronto basketball fans and this development means nothing to the success of the hometown Raptors. But for at least one weekend, Toronto will be the centre of the basketball world, and that’s cause for at least a little celebrating.
For the record, Wolstat reports that “An official announcement is expected within a week that will reveal further details of how one of the sport’s biggest weekends will tie into Toronto’s 20th-anniversary season.”
Remember, that 20th-anniversary season (which will actually be the 21st season in franchise history) is also expected to be the season the re-branded Raptors reinvent themselves, as Leiweke mentioned in a conference call back in May:
Leiweke called the 2016 All-Star game a “must-have” for the Raptors and said that’s a place where the re-branding can be completed. “Toronto’s not bidding on the 2016 All-Star game, Canada is. And that’s where we begin the change,” Leiweke boldy asserted.
Last thought: how loud is that arena going to be on All-Star Sunday when Jonas Valanciunas checks into the game?