NBA Awards 2021 All-Star Game to ... Indianapolis, Local Officials "Hopeful" for Future

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Ever since the lavish renovations to the Quicken Loans Arena were first sold to the public at a press unveiling in December, 2016, the promise of a future NBA All-Star game was part of the package.

In fact, other than a modest lease extension, which will keep the Cavaliers' in Cleveland until 2034, the All-Star game was the only perk for taxpayers. Later, a few provisions were tossed in, to persuade wishy-washy city councilpeople before a pivotal vote.

But Wednesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the 2021 NBA All-Star Game would be held at Bankers Like Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home of the Pacers. The announcement came one month after Chicago was selected as the host city for the 2020 event.

This news is being met with a shrug from city and team officials.

The initial promise, few may recall, was that Cleveland would host an All-Star game "within seven years," (by 2o23, presumably). But as opposition to the Q Deal grew more vocal through the early months of 2017 — and don't forget that the opposition won, and then voluntarily betrayed hundreds of activists who'd worked so tirelessly to topple the deal, for reasons that have yet to be publicized — the All-Star Games in either 2020 or 2021 were said to be securable if the arena renovations began right away. This came up explicitly at the Cuyahoga County Council hearings.

"[Councilman Jack] Schron noted, as he did last week, that it seems ludicrous to rush to authorize this project when we won’t know the effects of the state of Ohio’s budget until June," Scene reported on March 1. "To that concern, [Cavs CEO Len] Komoroski articulated the need for haste if Cleveland is to secure the all-important All-Star game in 2020."  (Italics added.)

Not only the deal, but its immediate ratification was required, pro-deal county and city councilpeople repeatedly argued throughout the proceedings. This was specifically for the purpose of hosting the earliest possible All-Star Game. The real reason for haste, of course, and for passing a very controversial piece of legislation as an "emergency ordinance," was to avoid, or at least to complicate, a voter referendum and to quash the opposition's momentum. But city leaders could never say that publicly. So their line — earnestly repeated by and the Plain Dealer — was that urgent passage was necessary to secure an All-Star game. 

And indeed, to add fuel to that narrative, the NBA imposed a strict deadline for renovation construction. In a letter from the league's deputy commissioner, the Cavaliers were told that if renovations did not begin by Sep. 15, Cleveland would no longer be considered for the All-Star Games in 2020 or 2021.

As Scene noted at the time, the letter made no promise that beginning construction by the appointed date would guarantee Cleveland's selection. And sure enough, Cleveland hasn't been selected. LA is hosting the event in 2018. Charlotte will host in 2019. Chicago has 2020 and Indianapolis has 2021. The earliest possible date for Cleveland, now, is 2022.

The Cavs' Len Komoroski is nevertheless "hopeful" that Cleveland will secure an All-Star game "in the near future." He issued a statement to that effect, saying that the Cavs were working closely with the league. Komoroski has every reason to be hopeful. The NBA issued a statement robotically acknowledging the strength of the local fan base and repeating what it has said since the beginning: that if the Q is renovated, Cleveland will get an All-Star game at some point down the road.   

In's account of the Indianapolis announcement, Joe Vardon reported that his "sources said Cleveland officials were neither disappointed or really even surprised that the city would have to wait another year."

But is anyone surprised? They got their deal. Why should they care?

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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