Bulls opposed to All-Star Game at UC

Updated: February 10, 2012, 10:18 AM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

While Houston celebrates its third NBA All-Star Game bid with the league's announcement Wednesday that the city will host the 2013 festivities, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and team president Michael Reinsdorf said they do not want the game to return to Chicago.

Chicago hosted its last NBA All-Star Game in 1988, when Michael Jordan, still with a head of hair, won both the slam-dunk competition and the game's MVP honors. But 24 years later, the Reinsdorfs said the cons outweigh the pros in having the game in Chicago.

"They'd have to force me to take the All-Star Game," Jerry Reinsdorf said. "They take over the building, your season-ticket holders have to be in a lottery to see if they get tickets and then they don't get a good ticket. Really, no good can come out of it and all it can do is upset your fans."

Ski Austin, the NBA executive vice president of events and attractions, said that indeed the league requires that the arena be turned over to them for nine days before the game. But as for making season-ticket holders unhappy, "It's easy for the team to say it's a league event and we don't have control over this or that," Austin said. "They can point to Friday night's Rising Stars game, when tickets are sold to the public and all of the other week's events ... so we're really only talking about Saturday and Sunday tickets."

The NBA is far from desperate for All-Star venues. Austin said they usually get seven or eight teams interested each year. They will soon announce the 2014 host city and in the spring will send out bid specifications for '15 and '16.

As for Michael Reinsdorf's contention that only about 3,000 of 15,000 season-ticket holders would end up with tickets -- "It's not fair to them," he said -- Austin said the re-configuration of arenas could increase that number. He also pointed to the financial benefits to the city.

"The civic-minded entities within a city ... can be helpful in convincing [the Reinsdorfs] that it's not a bad thing," Austin said, "because when a game comes there, it's going to be shown in more than 215 countries, in 40 languages and everything is going to say Chicago on top of that."

Jerry Reinsdorf, also the principal owner of the White Sox, agrees it could be a benefit to the city. "But at a very bad cost," he said, adding that baseball is different with the bigger venue. "I'd like to help the city bring in out-of-towners, help hotels, help restaurants. I just know talking to other people that your fans can't see the game."

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.

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