The NBA has reached a tentative agreement with the National Basketball Players Association to hold the 2021 All-Star game in Atlanta on March 7, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The last time Atlanta hosted an All-Star Weekend was in 2003 at the Philips Arena, now known as State Farm Arena. Further details have not been announced about the game or other All-Star Weekend events. But, there are reports about the NBA potentially having a “tie-in” with Historically Black Universities and Colleges for the game.
WABE reached out to The Atlanta Hawks to confirm the details of the game, and a representative said discussions are ongoing. They added that they were awaiting confirmation from the league as of Thursday afternoon.
Before the pandemic, this year’s game was scheduled to be held in Indianapolis. Turner Sports hosts programming for All-Star Weekend, so the location change makes for close proximity to Turner’s headquarters in Atlanta.
The exhibition game, widely considered to be a game for the enjoyment of fans, will be held during a time when fans can’t pack an arena and haven’t done so in nearly a year.
As of Thursday, Fulton County has had 69,079 COVID-19 cases and has 649 cases per 10,000 residents. Georgia’s daily case count has been on a substantial decline since mid-January.
The Atlanta Hawks are one of 10 teams allowing a limited number of fans to watch games in person. State Farm Arena allows a 10% audience capacity, which is 1,660 people. Fans are required to wear a mask, undergo rapid COVID-19 testing and must test negative to enter the building.
On Wednesday, the NBA announced that no players have tested positive for coronavirus since Jan 27. This news comes after 24 games have been postponed this season due to positive cases and extensive contact tracing.
However, a few positive tests among All-Star players could lead to the game being canceled.
The NFL canceled this year’s Jan. 31 Pro Bowl Game in favor of a COVID-safe virtual Pro Bowl Game on Madden NFL 21. The MLB canceled their 2020 All-Star game, which was scheduled for July 14 at Truist Park. However, the Atlanta Braves are slated to host the 2021 game.