Rick Fuson proud that Indy will host the NBA All-Star Game once again — in 2021

Hosting a second NBA All-Star game has been years in the making for city and Indiana Pacers officials alike.

They’ve sent many representatives to the last several All-Star Weekends, Toronto in 2016 and New Orleans in 2017. With the support of owner Herb Simon, the city submitted its bid in style — Larry Bird rode an IndyCar in New York City — back in April.

The announcement that Indianapolis will host the 2021 NBA All-Star Game was made official at a Wednesday afternoon press conference held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, and team executives.

“We can’t be more excited about it,” said Rick Fuson, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, told VigilantSports.com. “We’ve been talking to Herb about this for over two years. The bid process took almost a year, then we went to the NBA and turned our bid in in April.

“It’s just a great day. To be able to bring an event that has over a $100 million impact for the city and the state, to bring an event that is worldwide — it’s just not national. There’s 1.5 billion NBA television (viewers) across the world. It’s amazing that we will have this opportunity to have the game here.”

The 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans reached more than 200 countries and territories in 40 different languages. Thousands of media members will gather in Central Indiana.

Indianapolis last hosted the game in 1985, and Fuson was an operational person for the Pacers then. The NBA’s third-annual All-Star Game, in 1953, was held in Indiana at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.

Next Four Hosts:
2018: Los Angeles
2019: Charlotte
2020: Chicago
2021: Indianapolis

Rick Fuson joined Pacers Sports & Entertainment in 1984.

Herb Simon, who is 83 years old, is the longest-tenured owner in the league. Herb and his late brother, Mel, purchased the team in 1983.

He has since added three franchises to the Pacers Sports & Entertainment umbrella: the Indiana Fever of the WNBA, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League, and Pacers Gaming of the NBA2KLeague. On top of that, they opened The St. Vincent Center, a $50 million (privately financed) facility in the fall.

He’ll eventually pass the team down to his son, Stephen, but helping Indy land another All-Star game is just another example of Simon’s passion for this state.

“We have some very good owners in our league but Herb, I don’t think there’s anybody better,” Fuson said. “He cares about our city, he cares about our state, he cares about his people, he really cares about bringing this here.

“We talked about (hosting) a number of times over the years and it just wasn’t the right time. The thing about this, we’re in our 19th season now at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and we haven’t had an All-Star Game. That’s okay, though, because this building has seasoned so well and by the time we have it in 2021, I think people will continue to think it’s the best basketball facility any place.

“He’s excited about it.”

All-Star Weekend has become a spectacle with so much going on outside of the events. League partners like Nike, Gatorade, and JBL will almost certainly rent out space in the city to entertain and host events. There will live music, entertainment, and perhaps even a fashion show. That’s what has been done each year.

[From May: Indiana Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn talks about it’s bid]

The Rising Stars Game, All-Star Saturday, and the All-Star Game — set for Sunday, Feb. 14 — will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Team practices and other events will also utilized Lucas Oil Stadium and the Convention Center.

Fuson is the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee. Mel Raines, PS&E’s Senior Vice President for Facilities Operations, will serve as President.

Volunteer co-chairs of the LOC:
Rafael Sanchez, President and CEO of Indianapolis Power & Light Company
Aasif Bade, President of Ambrose Property Group
Cindy Simon Skjodt, civic leader and philanthropist
Tamika Catchings, retired star of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever who now serves as Director of Player Programs and Franchise Development.

Listen to my full interview with Fuson below.

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