So you are thinking about going to Orlando for All-Star weekend?
Allow me to help you in your planning. Attending NBA All-Star weekend can be extremely exciting or extraordinarily frustrating. My intent in this article is not to rain on anybody’s parade by any stretch of the imagination but to dispel any myths or fallacies. I apologize for my candor but I insist on always being honest.
The key to having a great time at any All-Star weekend is being realistic, open-minded, and flexible. Each host location presents various challenges that visitors must overcome and Orlando will be no different. The host city always has more of the fan friendly events in the local convention center and the more exclusive events in the city’s NBA arena. In this instance the two locations (Orange County Convention Center and Amway Arena) are about 11 miles apart.
That said the only reason you would be at the arena is if you have tickets to the exclusive more high profile events which include: All-Star Saturday Night, NBA Rising Stars Challenge (a fancy name for the Rookie vs Sophomore game), and the 2012 NBA All-Star game.
So what should you focus on?
The NBA All-Star Jam Session, held at the convention center from February 23-26, is a great family orientated atmosphere that can get fans close to their favorite players. Basically it is basketball junkie vendor fair ranging from video games, shooting challenges, obstacle courses, and tons of free stuff. Various players, hall of famers, and celebrities are scheduled to appear at the different attractions throughout the weekend. Guys like Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade make regular appearances at the Jam Session. Lines will be long but the schedule is available early enough for you to plan your means of attack.
Tickets for the Jam Session range between $12-$20 for kids ages 3-12 and between $20-$30 for adults. Tickets go on sale January 31. The difference in cost is based on the day you attend. Going on Thursday or Friday will allow you to get through most of the attractions pretty quickly and multiple times if you like. The higher cost is reflected in the weekend days which will have the most traffic but also the most amount of player appearances.
The convention center will also play host to the Sprint All-Star Celebrity Game and my personal favorite the NBA All-Star Practice. The celebrity game tickets will range between $50-$75 and go on sale January 25. I have never been much of a fan of the Justin Bieber’s of the world but I can see the draw fans have towards that event. The All-Star practice will feature all of the all-stars in a loose version of a walk through. Fans will see the weekend’s top stars in action and witness some of the camaraderie they share. Typically to close the practice the players engage in some sort of Guinness Book of World Records competition. They have raised the cost slightly this year to range between $50-$75 and tickets go on sale January 26.
What about the events at the arena you say?
The events at the arena tend to be wallet drainers with the exception of the Rising Stars Challenge. Tickets for that go on sale January 27 and range between $35-$50. A very good bargain.
The actual All-Star game or All-Star Saturday night are:
- Next to impossible to impossible to get. Most of those tickets go to NBA sponsors, celebs, and even other players. A handful are made available to season ticket holders in the host city. They are not made available for sale to the casual fan through ticket master or the NBA.
- If you do find them you will pay a pretty penny. Most resellers will ask for your first born, right arm, and house keys for tickets to one of those premier events. If you see a deal on them that is too good to be true then most likely it is. My advice is to go to a local spot near the arena and check out the action there. The atmosphere will be live for sure.
The NBA has started selling packages that include some of those events if you are interested. Of course if you have a “hookup” or know someone that knows someone then you might be golden. Since most of us will not fall into that catergory its best to temper expectations with those events.
While you are in Orlando for the weekend stay on top of information. Players tend to make surprise appearances throughout the weekend. You never know who you will run into while you are there. Sneaker reps, player agents, media correspondents, and promoters all clamor to the weekend the same way fans do. So be friendly and for the ladies be careful not knowing who you will meet can be a gift and a curse especially during that weekend.
Local bars and restaurants will all have specials to take advantage of. There will be an infinite amount parties for the night owls. I have no right to tell anybody what is fare price for admission but the “name brand parties” have a tendency to be no less than $100 for admission without the inclusion of your tasty beverage of choice. I may post something on the parties closer to the weekend but for now I have been told the Kenny Smith, Jordan, LeBron, Nike, and 2K parties are all noteworthy.
Remember Orlando is already full of touristas that won’t go home and all-star weekend will be even worse than usual. I will be there and will try to provide as much information as I can with the access I am granted. Follow me on Twitter for the latest.
If you see me feel free to say “Hello” or “Hey fool you were wrong” whatever floats your boat. I hope I have been of some help to you.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com