In the Spring of 2016, the Sports Foundation and Pelicans began working behind the scenes with the city, state, venues and hotels to identify conflicting business, space availability and capacities in case the NBA decided to move the 2017 All-Star Game and came calling on New Orleans. The prediction was, with such a short period of time before the 2017 game, the NBA would need to go to an experienced host city. Moving to a new city would cause critical delays in planning and execution for this complex event. That call officially came after Tom and Gayle Benson made a passionate pitch to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to give us a chance to bring the event back to New Orleans.
The next day began the 29-day fury of discrete business negotiations among the NBA and the Sports Foundation, New Orleans Pelicans, the City of New Orleans, SMG (Smoothie King Center/Mercedes-Benz Superdome managers) and the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau on behalf of CBD hotels. The record short bid concluded on August 19 with a press conference announcing the mega-event was coming back to New Orleans for a modern era record third time in 10 years. Now, just five short months later, the Host Committee is in the final stretch preparing for the February 17-19 weekend celebration of the NBA’s greatest.
The New Orleans NBA All-Star Host Committee is led by the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and New Orleans Pelicans, with Sports Foundation Executive Committee members David Sherman, Paul Valteau and Philip Sherman serving alongside Pelicans’ Executives Dennis Lauscha, Ben Hales and Mike Stanfield.
The Host Committee also includes the following subcommittees: City Services, Security and Traffic Control (chaired by Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni); Facilities (chaired by SMG GM Alan Freeman); Hotels (chaired by NOCVB CEO Stephen Perry); Media/P.R. (co-chaired by NOTMC CEO Mark Romig and NOCVB P.R. Chief Christian Sonnier); Inclusion (chaired by Communify’s Dustin Woehrmann); and, Community Events (chaired by the Saints’ Stephen Pate).
The Sports Foundation, under the guidance of CEO Jay Cicero and SVP Events Jeff Rossi, serves as the staff of the Host Committee. In addition to the coordination of day-to-day duties of the subcommittees listed above, the staff responsibilities also include fundraising, marketing, advertising, local business matching, volunteer program coordination, accounting and event operations.
The fact that New Orleans has an experienced and prepared host NBA team, Sports Foundation, committee leadership and staff in place from the 2008 and 2014 All-Star was a key element in the NBA’s decision to choose New Orleans.