INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Larry Bird hand-delivered a bid to the NBA Monday to bring the 2021 All-Star Game to Indianapolis. And he did it by driving a blue and gold IndyCar through New York City.
The NBA legend and Pacers president brought a touch of Indiana to Fifth Avenue when he rode the car a few blocks to the office of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“This is going to be special. We know how to throw a party,” Bird said of Indianapolis. “We haven’t done [the All-Star Game] since ’85 and we look forward to getting back in the mix.”
Bird and Pacers COO Rick Fuson also gave Silver an IndyCar helmet as a gift. They told Silver Indy is the perfect city because of a walkable downtown and the city’s experience hosting big events. The Pacers posted a video of the encounter to their social media pages.
Silver said he’s impressed. He even called Indiana “the heartland” of basketball.
“You guys do big events as well as anyone,” Silver said to Bird and Fuson. “Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, other huge events in the city. I know you guys would be fantastic. It means a lot that you came here and did this in person.”
Now it’s a waiting game.
Indiana Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn, who helped put the bid together, said event organizers are expecting Silver to make a decision sometime this off-season.
The NBA hasn’t announced what other cities are bidding but Indiana Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said he knows of at least 14 other teams that have expressed interest.
“It’s a competitive process. The city builds enhancement type projects around hosting the event and presents those to the NBA.”
Vaughn said, if Indianapolis wins, those projects will be announced at a later date, as will the venue.
It could be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, it could be at Lucas Oil Stadium. The plan is to also use the Convention Center and Georgia Street for All-Star weekend events.
“We really are literally built to host these types of events and it’s been too long for the NBA All-Star Game.”
Indianapolis is already hosting the 2021 men’s Final Four tournament.
If both events come to the city in the same year, Bird expects it to be a year to remember. But he’s already making memories with the bid.
“It was like a bucket list thing,” Bird said. “In New York, I gotta do it.”
Executives with Downtown Indy Inc. traveled to New Orleans for the 2017 All-Star Game.
IMPD said, if Indy gets the game, security planners will visit other cities as they host the game between now and 2021.
The last time the game was in Indianapolis was in 1985 at the Hoosier Dome. It was Michael Jordan’s first appearance in an All-Star Game.