Oklahoma City Thunder Star Kevin Durant shows some love to rapper Lil Wayne during the NBA All-Star game Sunday at Amway Center in Orlando.
The National Basketball Association’s 61st All-Star Weekend tipped off Feb. 24-26 at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. Per caps for F&B ranged from $28.79 to $47.98 for the three nights of sold-out events, which included the Celebrity Game and Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Skills Challenge and Slam Dunk contest on Saturday and the All-Star game Sunday night.
Each of these had different sponsors, which might have been more of a challenge for a less-technological venue. “The NBA sells primary and secondary sponsorship and they have the right to do that,” said Executive Director Allen Johnson. “We have LED signage and video boards all around the facility, so signage could be changed easily for each event.”
The NBA worked with the sponsors to source images that they then sent to the facility. Three permanent, nondigital signs are visible around the bowl of the facility. “Two of those Amway Center sponsor signs, Kia and Budweiser, were also sponsors for the All-Star game, so we kept those in place,” said Johnson, “but we had to cover the AirTran Airways sign.”
Last year’s food per cap for the marquee Sunday game hit $33.81 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Food and drink per caps for that event this year, including premium, restaurant sales and private event sales, reached $47.98.
“Per caps for the final All-Star game were about double a normal Orlando Magic game at Amway Center, which usually reach about $20,” said Johnson.
Total beverage sales for Feb. 24 were $97,000; for Feb. 25, $136,000; and for Feb. 26th’s All-Star game, $175,000.
Joel Glass, VP of Communications for the Orlando Magic and Johnson’s NBA liaison, said that the league was not releasing merchandise figures this year. Last year, the league hit a record for merch sales with a per cap of $24.22 for the All-Star game.
The Western Conference team ended up prevailing over the Eastern Conference team 152-149, though the Eastern Conference team came within one point of the lead in the last minute of the game.
“Our Eastern team made quite a run toward the end,” said Johnson. “I would have liked to see us win, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
In order to prepare for 17,000 people to come through Amway Center’s doors each day for three days, two years of preparation was necessary.
“About a year out we started having monthly meetings with an NBA contingent as well as an Orlando Magic contingent,” said Johnson. “About six months out we started involving the city logistical groups and bumped the meetings up to weekly, and every couple days we would have meetings with specific factions of people.”
This event is a serious endeavor not only because of its magnitude, but also because this 61st All-Star Weekend marked the first time since 1998 that the event has taken place at an Eastern Conference facility.
“I think the prestige of hosting one of the premiere sporting events in the world adds to the reputation and exposure we experience for the Amway Center and the city of Orlando as a brand,” said Johnson. “We’ve received nothing but positive feedback from both the NBA and attendees so hopefully that means that we’ll be able to do it again, but it seems like they’ve been going to mostly new venues.”
Amway Center opened in 2010.
Johnson said that he and his team studied the economic impact of the previous NBA All-Star games in Los Angeles and Dallas. “Both of those games had over $100 million of impact to the city,” said Johnson. “We’re expecting to at least match those numbers, if not beat them.”
The City of Orlando also hosted more than 40,000 runners for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Feb. 26, and the Daytona International Speedway in nearby Daytona Beach, Fla., was supposed to have hosted the Daytona 500 that day, which was delayed due to rain.
Sunday, Feb. 26, was already a busy event day because the Oscars occurred in Hollywood, Calif., and were televised worldwide. However, Johnson didn’t think the events competed for television audiences.
“The typical Oscar-watcher and NBA-watcher are two very different demographics, but I guess if someone really wanted to watch both, they would just switch back and forth,” added Johnson.
Interviewed for this article: Joel Glass, (407) 916-2631; Allen Johnson, (407) 440-7070