Before we know it, it will be the middle of July. That will mean Las Vegas will become the epicenter of the basketball universe.
That will occur when the home of the Aces hosts its third All-Star weekend since 2019. All of Las Vegas’ basketball All-Star occasions have occurred in odd-numbered years. Nevada hosted in 2019, 2021 (with pandemic restrictions) and is now the 2023 host.
Las Vegas also hosted the 2007 NBA All-Star Game.
Of course, there was no All-Star Game in 2020 because of the pandemic and last year’s was in Chicago. But with All-Star weekend becoming seemingly sequestered to Las Vegas over the past few years, it has many a WNBA fan asking if the league is stunting its growth by making All-Star weekend a Vegas party.
Yes, having it in Las Vegas automatically makes it more of an event because of the atmosphere of the city. But other places can create that same feeling.
The WNBA will not have to worry about All-Star festivities for next year because of the Olympics in Paris. But here are our ideas for what we believe should be the sites of the next three All-Star Games.
2025 – Toronto
It is no secret that the WNBA has had its eyes on Canada for a while. When it does Canadian media rights deals with entities such as TSN and SportsNet on top of embracing the influx of Canadian players such as Kia Nurse, Natalie Achonwa and Laeticia Amihere, it shows the W wants a presence north of the United States border.
Prior to the start of the 2023 season, the WNBA staged a preseason game between the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The game was a sellout and it garnered sky-high merchandise sales. A few outlets that cover the W even compared it to when the first-ever WNBA game took place in 1997 between the Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty.
Much of the chatter that occurred following what was a successful game was how Toronto has to move to the front of the line in terms of potential WNBA expansion. Our response was that – and how the W desperately needs to burst its Las Vegas All-Star bubble.
And it is as simple as Cathy Engelbert thinking about the number 6ix.
2026 – Phoenix
Recently, the Phoenix Mercury and Phoenix Suns were purchased by a Michigan businessman by the name of Mat Ishbia after a massive scandal all but forced ex-owner Robert Sarver out of ownership of WNBA and NBA franchises.
Ishbia apparently has audacious plans for both the Mercury and Suns – and it is showing itself in his desire to host All-Star Games in Phoenix for both the WNBA and NBA.
Recently, the Phoenix City Council approved a resolution that would be aimed at bringing All-Star Games for both leagues to Arizona. The plan called for 2024 on the WNBA side and either 2025 or 2026 on the NBA’s side.
That plan probably needs to be revised in terms of the WNBA because of next year’s Olympics. The NBA has yet to announce a location for either the 2025 or 2026 All-Star Game. Phoenix last hosted the WNBA All-Star Game in 2014 as well as 2000 while the NBA last had its turn in 2009.
2027 – Los Angeles
Believe it or not, the WNBA has yet to stage All-Star festivities in Los Angeles.
If the W had its eyes on Tinseltown for an upcoming midseason weekend, 2027 may be the perfect year to do so.
After all the following year will be another Olympic year and those Games are returning to Los Angeles for the third time in its history (1932 and 1984).
Also, because of the looming five-ring circus that will soon engulf the area, the WNBA can even alter the format of that year’s game where it is more Team USA vs. Team World. It is an almost foolproof advertisement for the area, the Games themselves and for USA Basketball.
Only time will tell what the WNBA decides to do with its upcoming All-Star festivities – especially since they are not announced years in advanced ala the NBA. But bursting its Nevada bubble we think is a safe bet.