We are now finished with “All-Star” season until MLB and MLS All-Star week in July. The run from the NFL Pro Bowl through the NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto again produced its share of questions, activations and innovations to make the games more relevant in a time when fans are more enthralled with the pre-All Star festivities and activation than the game itself. So is there a way to continue to make the games more engaging or at least intriguing to fans?
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver may have touched on something that could help to at least broaden the scope of All-Star, something which has really kept the pro Bowl of at least some interest to players; bring the game to a desirable location that is NOT a regular season stop. The NBA has tried it before, bringing the All-Star game to Las Vegas one year, but why not take the break, which is now almost a week, and bring the pageantry and the stars of the game to cities and locations where the game is not played regularly. Silver hinted at London as being a destination, but why not Vancouver and Paris, Mexico City or even Seattle or Kansas City? For the NHL, what better way to test a market than to see the response to an All-Star week, which the city can focus on for over a year, like college athletics does with the Final Four or now the College Football Championship Game, or like NFL cities do for the Super Bowl. Is there a better way to expose the game to new audiences of fans, ticket purchasers and viewers than giving them the best, and is there a better way to get brands exposed in new markets as added value for their existing deals? Heck it may even uncover new brand sponsors as well, just for those games, and ones that are hyper-local.
Every year there is the complaint that the local fan in the host city never gets access to tickets, that the game in a host city can create more problems than it does solutions, so why not bring it, through a lucrative bidding process, to places untouched? Now it doesn’t have to happen every year, but maybe every three years a wild card city gets included in the mix. The excitement, the sales opportunities and the brand building would be very strong, and frankly few league cities would probably balk at the respite. Of course there would be geographic limits, China and other parts of Asia are too far for a mid-season stop, but Europe and Latin America work well.
Most importantly it would breathe even more life into the mundane, while showcasing stars to those who usually only get a glimpse up close. Hit the road All-Stars, you may like what you find.