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Volume 21 No. 1
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Crossover to celebrate NBA’s pop culture ties

The NBA is creating an All-Star fan festival venue called NBA Crossover as the league develops new programming around its marquee week of the season.

Gone this year is the NBA Jam Session, the league’s large-scale, sponsor-supported All-Star fan festival that in past years was held in local convention centers. The Jam Session was last held in 2014 in New Orleans and since then, the league has changed its fan festival options to suit the host city.

Last year in Toronto for All-Star week, the NBA created NBA Centre Court, which put a combination of 40 courts and baskets under one roof and focused on youth clinics, participation and skills events.

The interactive exhibits will include All-Star jerseys through the years and trophy displays.

This year, the NBA had little choice to move away from the Jam Session concept after it shifted the 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans from Charlotte because of North Carolina’s HB2 law. The league’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Charlotte was made in July and by then the New Orleans Convention Center had already been booked. The league decided to develop a different fan festival that also would allow for league sponsorship activations, which at press time were still being finalized.

The result is NBA Crossover, an interactive set of exhibits that will highlight the intersection of the NBA and popular culture, including music and fashion.

NBA Crossover will be held at The Chicory, an event space in downtown New Orleans that can host up to 2,000 people. The venue will be open to the public at no charge from Friday, Feb. 17, to All-Star Sunday on Feb. 19. The league is using IMG Live in producing the venue.

Among the expected displays are curated sneaker and fashion areas, a display of NBA All-Star jerseys through the years, artist-designed memorabilia including NBA backboards and All-Star court pieces, trophy displays, an NBA Theater to host panel discussions, current player and NBA legend appearances, and a DJ booth featuring various NBA team DJs.

“Every year we look at the particular city and develop a concept to get fans closer to the game,” said Kelly Flatow, senior vice president of events at the NBA. “This year it will showcase the convergence of the NBA and pop culture. With the convention center unavailable, we looked at what opportunities we had to engage fans.”

The NBA Crossover concept debuted last year in London, but Flatow said the New Orleans version mostly will focus on All-Star programming with strong sponsorship involvement. But there will be no presenting partner of the new NBA Crossover venue.

While the NBA’s All-Star Saturday night event and All-Star Game will be held at the Smoothie King Center, the league will hold its celebrity game and its Rising Stars Challenge on Friday of All-Star weekend at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Those events typically were held at smaller venues in other All-Star cities.

The league also is expanding on the entertainment program it began last year when it brought in about 120 in-game producers, directors, talent and other personnel from all 30 NBA teams to help with All-Star entertainment.

This year in New Orleans, the league is bringing in more than 250 in-game entertainers, producers and other personnel from across the league.