Chris Haynes scooped me just like he did the rest of the world Saturday from Houston when he got NBA commissioner-to-be Adam Silver to reveal that not only do the Blazers have an interest in playing host to a future All-Star Game but that the league shares that interest.
The Trail Blazers' front office has not chased the game for several years, a combination of discouragement from not getting the game after several bids and perhaps a reluctance to take on the rather daunting task of hosting the game. The big announced reason that Portland has been denied for so long, of course, has been hotel space. We've heard for years the league wanted one headquarters hotel big enough to accommodate the large contingent of league officials and media that attends the game.
I've always thought that was a little bit lame. Just this year in Houston, the league had media staying at two different hotels and certainly in downtown Portland and the Rose Quarter area there are enough hotels to handle the load of this game. Remember, in 1992 this city hosted the Dream Team for a week in the Tournament of Americas and also the (Shaquille O'Neal-topped) NBA Draft. You think there wasn't a hotel crush for those events? There were teams and their fans here from all over the hemisphere and accompanying media, too. Portland pulled it off without a hitch and this came directly after the Blazers were in the NBA Finals.
And frankly, I'd have a hard time believing the hotel needs are what they used to be back in the 1990s. Certainly newspapers and TV stations don't send the numbers of reporters to big events they used to send. The economics of the business just don't seem to allow it.
My thoughts about this over the last several years have been twofold: No. 1, the league isn't real excited about going to smaller markets these days for its showcase game, no matter how well-supported the franchise. No. 2, I don't believe the Blazers have wanted -- or needed -- the hassle of staging the game.
But the game is useful to a franchise in several ways. It renews excitement in a community about the team and the league for at least one season, it provides a chance for a city to find a spotlight and make if feel collectively good about itself, and last but not least, it helps a franchise sell season tickets because All-Star events can sometimes be included in a season-ticket package. And don't forget, the economic impact from the weekend can be sizable, somewhere around $100 million it is estimated. It also can make heroes out of city officials, sports authorities and team officials who succeed in bringing the game to a city.
I am pretty sure the All-Star Weekend isn't what it once was. The Saturday events are in desperate need of refurbishing. And yes, because of all the tickets that are doled out to the NBA, its officials and sponsors, a lot of Portlanders wouldn't get to see the actual game in person. But that's immaterial to the point right now. The only current NBA cities that haven't played host to the game are Memphis, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Toronto, Brooklyn and Portland -- and Portland has been in the league longer than any of those places. And really, the support here during this franchise's run has been incredible. For much of the Trail Blazers' life, this has been a model franchise.
Meanwhile, this game has been played in Fort Wayne, Ind., Arlington, Texas, Rochester, N.Y., Syracuse, N.Y., St. Louis, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Las Vegas.
I don't know that our city NEEDS this game but I'm positive we DESERVE it. It's just our turn.