SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – We are less than two weeks away from the eyes of the basketball world focusing on Salt Lake City.
Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith says there will be well over 100,000 people coming to Utah just for All-Star Game Weekend.
“This is a really important moment for our state to shine,” Smith said Monday. “It’s been 30 years. To give you an idea of what the difference is, ten times the hotel rooms need to be secured. I know that there is probably 120,000 people coming into this town, and we’re ready for it.”
If you think Salt Lake City isn’t a desirable spot for the NBA’s showcase event, Smith says that is not the case.
“I’ve been to All-Star Game where people haven’t wanted to go to that city, or haven’t been excited,” Smith said. “This is not one. From the phone calls I’m getting, how many people we can’t accommodate. Whether it’s our legends who have played here, whether it’s performers who want to be a part of it.”
Recently, there have been a slew of celebrities at Jazz games. From NFL legend Calvin Johnson to rapper The Game, to another rap star Travis Scott, and they have all walked away impressed.
“[Scott] came in at halftime, we’re sitting watching the game, and he just screams out, ‘I love Utah,” Smith recalled. “I was like, ‘what was that?’ He was like, ‘I love Utah. There’s just something here that I love.’ People are reaching out that they want to go to a game, and that’s becoming a thing. And we get the same response, wow, wow, wow.”
Tickets to the All-Star Game are going for thousands of dollars, but Smith says there are other events affordable for entire families.
“I mean Jam Session, the HBCU game starting at ten dollars. The Rising Stars Challenge, I think I looked and you can find tickets for 45 dollars. If people want to go, there’s something for everyone.”
All-Star weekend could set an example for more big sporting events coming to Utah in the future.
“Everyone should be watching this, because with the Olympics coming and other events, this is going to be incredibly impactful,” Smith said. “250 million dollars plus of economic impact in a four or five day period, that’s pretty impressive.”
The NBA All-Star Game is February 19th, with festivities beginning on the 16th. Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen will play in the All-Star Game for the Western Conference.