ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA Last night, for the first time in 20 years, the N.B.A. All-Star Game returned to Orlando, bringing with it basketball players, celebrities, worldwide media, and, of course, fans. In fact, Visit Orlando estimates nearly 100,000 people came to town to attend the game, held at the Amway Center, as well as the N.B.A. Jam Session at the Orange County Convention Center, the Sprint All-Star Celebrity Game, and dozens of unofficial parties and events hosted beforehand.
At the convention center, the N.B.A. took over 500,000 square feet of the North Hall to create the N.B.A. Jam Session, a four-day fan festival that included dozens of hands-on activities, autograph sessions with current and former players, and the Sprint All-Star Celebrity Game Friday night. The N.B.A. built a 4,000-seat arena inside the convention hall to host the game.
Indeed, new sponsor Sprint blanketed All-Star activities with signage, activities for fans, information booths, and Friday night’s All-Star Celebrity Game at Jam Session and the Sunday night pregame concert, where the company’s executives and guests watched from a V.I.P. area topped with a tent in Sprint’s signature yellow color.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to have a coming-out party for our sponsorship on this weekend, which is truly the highlight of the season for the N.B.A.,” said Tim Considine, Sprint’s director of sponsorship marketing. “An event like this not only impacts people on the street, but TNT [looked] in on the concert a couple times during their pregame broadcast. So it will have an impact not just on the folks here but the millions of people at home. It’s a big weekend for us in our year-one strategy to get awareness established in terms of our association with the N.B.A.”
To handle production, staging, lighting, and sound for the Sprint Pregame Concert on Church Street just outside the arena, N.B.A. Entertainment hired Production Resource Group. “The greatest challenge was that there was talk of this N.B.A. season not even happening. Just about everybody had written us off,” said Kevin McKnight, the production company’s general manager. “Once the word came down, literally it was the first week of December. So right then we were brought in at 100 percent.”
Production Resource Group also provided lighting equipment inside the Amway Center for the All-Star Game and halftime show, which included entertainment from Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, and Pitbull.
Dozens of parties took place in bars, clubs, and independent event spaces around Orlando over the four days, with hosts and entertainers such as Michael Jordan, Sean “Diddy” Combs, comedian Kevin Hart, and Mary J. Blige. On Friday night Adidas hired Night Vision Entertainment to turn an airplane hangar at Showalter Flying Services into a sleek lounge party for Dwight Howard. More than 500 people attended the invitation-only party that included entertainment from Fabolous, D.M.C., and B.o.B.
Visit Orlando also took advantage of the All-Star weekend to showcase the city to potential clients. “We do still have a significant client base that we are trying to tap into that may not know that Orlando has grown and really become a first-tier city. So when we realized the N.B.A. was going to be allowing us to have this block of tickets, we decided to go out and invite a lot of these C.E.O.-level meeting and convention executives to come to Orlando, put them up, take them to the game, entertain them, and let them see what a first-class city Orlando has evolved into,” said Tammi Runzler, Visit Orlando's senior vice president for meeting and convention sales. Runzler would not share names but said guests “represent significant trade shows, significant business that we would love to book in Orlando for future years.”