The NBA on Thursday announced that it was removing February's All-Star Game from Charlotte, an aggressive response to a North Carolina state law that eliminated anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, and transgender people.
A ripple effect from this decision was that with the 2017 All-Star Game less than seven months away, the event suddenly had no home. Several cities have been scrambling to enter the conversation to host one of the nation's premier sporting events, and on Friday Massachusetts House Speaker Bob DeLeo made a public plea to lure the event to Boston.
"Bring the #AllStarGame to MA, where we recently advanced civil rights with the #transgender law," DeLeo posted on his Twitter account.
DeLeo was referring to a law that was signed on July 11 that will allow people to use restrooms, changing rooms, and locker rooms that match their gender identities. In a letter dated April 28, Massachusetts Senate president Stan Rosenberg wrote to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, urging him to consider Boston for the 2017 All-Star Game amid the tumult in Charlotte. Rosenberg cited the state's history as a leader in civil rights and equality, as well as its rich sports traditions.
The Celtics, who have won 17 world championships, have not hosted an NBA All-Star Game since 1964. But despite the sudden All-Star vacancy, and the fact that Boston appears to now have the infrastructure in place to host the event, several NBA sources said it was not a viable option for the coming year.
Mainly, TD Garden is booked by Disney on Ice that weekend, a spokesperson for Feld Entertainment confirmed.
"We have not been approached by the NBA to host the 2017 All-Star Game," TD Garden spokesperson Tricia McCorkle said in an e-mail. "However, we would be unable to host due to scheduling commitments that week."
The Celtics had not expressed interest in hosting next year's All-Star Game, and have had no discussions with the NBA about the possibility.
"It would be unlikely for a variety of reasons on such short notice," Celtics president Rich Gotham said in a text message. "But if the city and state feel strongly about hosting a game in future years, we would be happy to have those conversations."
With Boston's doomed 2024 Olympic bid and the cancellation of a scheduled IndyCar Series race in September, there is a lingering sense that the city cannot host fun things, and the fact that the NBA All-Star Game has not been held in Boston in 52 years does not exactly dispel that notion.
In the past, Boston's All-Star hopes seemed to be held back by a pair of obstacles. First, the team had one of the deepest season ticket holder bases in the league, and there was a concern that after the NBA collected its allotment of tickets, too many Celtics fans would be left out.
Also, Boston did not have a viable location for the many fan festivals and events that coincide with All-Star weekend. Now, of course, that issue seems to be allayed by the presence of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, which opened in the spring of 2004.
Silver has said that the two primary factors in selecting host cities are the presence of a state-of-the-art arena as well as ample available hotel rooms — typically more than 5,000 in all. TD Garden opened in 1995.