The 2017 All-Star Game is headed to New Orleans.
The NBA has not officially confirmed this, but it is expected soon.
This is the third time since 2008 the NBA has brought the All-Star Game to New Orleans since 2008, the last one being in 2014. Because of the economic boost the game — and the many people it draws — bring to a city, New Orleans and Louisiana officials lobbied hard to get the event once the door opened.
The 2017 game had been scheduled to be in Charlotte, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA owners rightfully drew a line in the sand around the discriminatory HB2, what is commonly called “the bathroom law,” and was passed by the North Carolina legislature earlier this year. The law restricts transgender bathroom use (you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born) and preempted anti-discrimination ordinances put in by Charlotte and other North Carolina cities that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. It was a calculated “red meat” political move by a Republican legislature trying to make this a big issue and motivate their voters in the fall election (North Carolina is considered a swing state in the presidential race).
North Carolina can put the law on the books, just like free speech laws allow people to say terrible things, but there are consequences to actions. Adults understand that. It wasn’t just the NBA, HB2 led to a business backlash as well with PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and others pulling plans for expansion in the state.
Louisiana is far from a model state as far as gay/lesbian rights legislation and issues go, but it has not gone as far as the “bathroom bill” that other states have passed (at least not yet).
There are few cities nationally that could quickly handle an event the size and scope of the All-Star Game (with an event that size, less than a year is very fast to get it together, and the arena/convention spaces had not to be booked). New Orleans was one, and a place the NBA had been before. Also in the running were Las Vegas, Orlando, Brooklyn, and Chicago.
The NBA has told Charlotte officials that if the law is changed, the 2019 All-Star Game will be there (2018 is in Los Angeles).
In the short term, there is going to be another big party in the Big Easy come February.