NEW YORK—For the fifth time in NBA history, Madison Square Garden will host the NBA All-Star Game. But this time, IT will not do it alone, instead splitting duties with the city’s newest arena, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Garden will host the 2015 game, played on a Sunday, Feb. 15, and the Barclays Center will host the Feb. 13–14 skills events, which include the marquee slam-dunk contest and the 3-point contest.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pushed for building the new Brooklyn arena after plans for a stadium on Manhattan’s West Side failed, made the announcement alongside NBA Commissioner David Stern in New York on Sept. 25.
“This will be your All-Star Game Mr. Mayor,” Stern said at the announcement Wednesday.
The Garden will get the top-billing event, but Stern said there will be events throughout the five boroughs during the week.
When asked by another reporter if the split would ensure Barclays would host the game in another bid, Stern would not answer directly, saying it would ruin negotiations.
“I don’t think it will be a problem to have it here again if the league and other owners want to do it,” Stern said. “But lets wait and see how this works out.”
Barclays Center, which has already hosted several high profile events in its first year, including the much-publicized MTV Video Music Awards, was a long rumored choice for the NBA’s featured game.
“As soon as the shovels went in to the ground for building the Barclays Center, the distant drum beat began,” Stern joked.
Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio had written a letter urging Barclays be the main host, arguing the Garden was less friendly to labor unions.
Stern said he did not consider the letter when making his decision.
“I thought it was in the middle of a primary campaign and I wanted to focus on basketball, not politics,” Stern said.
Cablevision Systems Corporation CEO James Dolan said the accusations were not true.
“That letter was more spurned on by the CWA (Communications Workers of America) in Brooklyn than it was having anything to do with Madison Square Garden,” Dolan said. “I think it was more about politics and trying to gain an endorsement than anything else.”
On Tuesday, officials from CWA as well as local representatives called for state legislation to take tax breaks away from MSG. De Blasio, though not present at the event, issued a statement supporting the CWA workers.
The All-Star Game may be a swan song for the famed Garden. Despite a three-year, $900 million just-completed renovation, City Council recently issued only a 10-year permit to the stadium. Politicians are hoping to relocate the Garden and renovate Penn Station, which is located under the stadium. There has been no word where the Garden would relocate.
This event will mark three consecutive years the city will host a marquee sporting event. This summer Citi Field in Queens hosted the MLB All-Star Game. In February 2014, the city will host the Super Bowl (although the game will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey).
The 2014 NBA All-Star Game will be played in New Orleans.