CLEVELAND (AP) — With his downtown casino open, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wants to get the NBA's high rollers into town.
Gilbert said Tuesday he plans to approach the league about bringing its annual All-Star game back to Cleveland, which last hosted the event in 1997.
"That is something definitely that we are interested in," Gilbert said following a news conference where Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving was named the league's Rookie of the Year.
Gilbert's Horseshoe Casino Cleveland opened Monday night to rave reviews. It's arrival along with a new convention center, medical mart and hotels has re-energized the city's downtown. Gilbert believes an entertainment district centered around the casino and Quicken Loans Arena could be enough to entice the NBA to consider Cleveland for a future NBA All-Star weekend.
Houston will host the game next year and New Orleans will have it again in 2014 after hosting in 2008. The earliest Cleveland could host would be in 2015, but the city could have stiff competition with both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets expressing interest in having the midseason event.
"I hope in the next few years we'd be able to get it," Gilbert said. "I'm going to do our best and I'll talk to the commissioner (David Stern). We'll be talking to the league very shortly."
Gilbert noted that before the All-Star game was held in Orlando in February that it was in a Western Conference city eight consecutive years. The NBA prefers to have the event in warmer cities to take advantage of the weather, and one of its stipulations is that the host city has enough hotel rooms to accommodate thousands of fans and an international media contingent.
In 1997, the league commemorated its 50th anniversary by holding the All-Star game in Cleveland and invited the top 50 all-time players, who were honored during a ceremony.