The NBA is finding out that when it comes to the All-Star Game, you can’t have it both ways.
The league stated that Sunday’s star-studded game is a TV event, there will be no NBA-sanctioned events open to the public, and that fans should not travel to Atlanta. That request is falling on deaf ears.
The numerous gatherings are in direct opposition to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ statement telling nightlife establishments “not to host events in the city related to this game.”
The weekend has also put Mayor Bottoms at odds with local businesses hoping for a surge of customers after a challenging year.
Todd Schneider, whose company owns a Ferris wheel in Atlanta, told Bloomberg that he was excited to have the game coming to his city. “Next I hear the mayor say, ‘But don’t come.’ That’s painful,” he said.
A number of NBA players were publicly unenthusiastic about health risks the game could present to players and fans — though those grumbles have faded in recent weeks, and the league is implementing extensive health and safety protocols.
One sure winner of the game will be its broadcaster, TNT, which could take in around $24 million in ad and sponsorship deals, by one estimate.