SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller took the podium with a smile.
“It’s funny how a few words can make us so happy,” Miller said.
Those words: Salt Lake City will host the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.
On Wednesday, in a press conference featuring Miller, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Gov. Gary R. Herbert, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Larry H. Miller Group CEO Steve Starks, the Utah Jazz and the NBA announced that one of the league’s marquee events will be returning to Utah — 30 years after it first hosted the midseason spectacle.
“I think it's a tremendous compliment to the state of Utah, city of Salt Lake and Jazz fans to have an event like that,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
In February of 1993, John Stockton and Karl Malone stood at center court of what was then the Delta Center and together hoisted the All-Star Game MVP trophy.
Could Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert be doing the same thing 30 years later?
“Big-time events in sports are part of the DNA of this state and part of this city,” Silver told the crowd assembled in the Vivint Smart Home Arena atrium.
With that history — which includes the 2002 Winter Olympics — and the longevity of the Miller family as stewards of the franchise, the league has always been partial to bringing the All-Star game back to Utah. But the Jazz needed to do some updating to make it plausible.
It’s long been a tradition for the NBA to bring the All-Star festivities to newer arenas in an attempt to show them off to the world. The Jazz needed to do something to put their arena back on the NBA’s map. Cue a $125 million renovation.
“When we started this project, three or four years ago, this was exactly the type of event that we hoped would come back,” Starks said.
The renovation gave the arena a facelift, including new seats, new vendors, an atrium, upgraded locker room and overall a more modern feel. It returned the beloved edifice back to a world-class venue and the NBA noticed.
Think we can make it official pic.twitter.com/CTx1jIDEiS— Ryan Miller (@millerjryan) October 23, 2019
“I think frankly, the final piece was the renovation that Steve talked about to this arena,” Silver said, “which puts it in the top tier arenas anywhere in the world.”
And more than worthy to host an All-Star game once again.
Starks said he doesn’t anticipate there will be any major arena updates needed between now and 2023.
“The goal, when we started that process, was to return it to first-class within the league and within the world, and we certainly accomplished that,” Starks said. “That there's always going to be capital invested in the arena to keep it at the front edge of innovation and make it a great experience for our fans. But we don't see anything that's critically missing.”
It wasn't just the Jazz that have been pushing for the All-Star game to return to Salt Lake. There was a reason that Herbert and Biskupski were present on Wednesday: This is a statewide affair.
The state of Utah, Salt Lake City and county, Utah Sports Commission, Utah Office of Tourism and Visit Salt Lake all joined in the bid. There are some massive benefits of having the NBA world descend on your city. Herbert estimated that there will be a $45-50 million economic impact from the week’s festivities.
“It’s great,” Gobert said. “I think the city will embrace it and the city deserves it. So I think it’s great.”