Mayor, city leaders warn about crowds for 2021 NBA All-Star game

It is official, the NBA is set to hold their 2021 All-Star Game at the State Farm Arena in just a few weeks.

The games usually bring big crowds to the host city but Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and other top city officials said they want people to stay home this year because of the pandemic.

"I personally don’t believe that the All-Star weekend should be happening at all," Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown said.

In a tweet, Bottoms — whose city was picked to play host to the NBA All-Star Game and skills competitions on March 7 — raised major concerns about the notion of fans coming to the city for the events.

"People should not travel to Atlanta to party," she said.

"The tourism industry is to Atlanta what Wall Street is to New York but I share the concerns with the mayor for the concerns of it being a super spreader event," Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said.

Councilman Michael Julian Bond hopes the NBA will able to host the game safely.

"As long as the NBA can do this in the same fashion as the bubble down in Florida I’m all for it. I think it should be here and great to highlight Atlanta," Bond said.

The game will take place on March 7 and all surrounding events are set for one night instead of the traditional weekend full slate of events.

The Slam Dunk Competition will happen during halftime of the All-Star game versus the usual Saturday night before the game.

Also, the skills challenge and three-point contest will be included on the same night as the All-Star game.

The NBA said strict protocols will be in place for the All-Star events; players will be allowed a very limited number of guests, all participants must travel to Atlanta by private car or plane, and for the most part, players will be allowed to leave their hotels only for All-Star events at the arena.

Tickets will not be sold.

"At first I was surprised and taken aback because as a city council member I had not heard anything about that," Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens said.

Councilman Dickens learned the news from social media and was confused as to why the council did not have a say until he learned the NBA didn’t have to go through them.

"The NBA can do pretty much whatever they want with a game because the game is a television event and they are not going to have fans in the stand," Dickens said.

During past All-Star weekends, tens of thousands of fans are attracted to the host city for the game, parties, and atmosphere.

"Do not overcrowd bars and restaurants. I will be in favor of a reduction in occupancy for those nights. For the capacity in the next few months," Dickens said.

"For those who may be planning mass party events and putting it all over the internet and attract more people that’s an issue because there’s a potential for it to be a super spreader," Michael Julian Bond said.

"You don’t want to be in an environment that’s conducive to COVID and you go back to your city and spread it," Councilman Brown said.

"The best seat in the house like the super bowl might be in your own living room," Bond said.

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