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Cleveland looks to make another big impression with NBA All-Star Weekend

'We know how to take an event and make it bigger, make it better, and make it more successful,' David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, said.

CLEVELAND — We are less than a month away from all the dunks, tricks, and stars of NBA All-Star Weekend coming to Cleveland. How ready is the city to take the spotlight?

"We hear time and time again that Cleveland is one of the very best host cities for these events, that we know how to do it right," David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, told 3News.

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The city certainly has an impressive track record. In just the past seven years, it has hosted the Republican National Convention, MLB All-Star Game, and NFL Draft, just to name a few. However, in just a few weeks, it's all about basketball.

"We know how to wrap the community around it," Gilbert said. "We know how to take an event and make it bigger, make it better, and make it more successful."

Signs have already started going up (with more on the way) to welcome over 130,000 people expected to file into greater Cleveland.

"Hotel rooms are absolutely packed and rates are very high," Gilbert stated. "All of that translates into big dollars being pumped into our community. It's estimated probably somewhere north of $100 million."

That money won't just be going downtown; there are nearly 400 events going on in total hosted at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, the Wolstein Center, Tower City, Public Auditorium, and many smaller places around the region. Some events are free, while some of the bigger-name attractions are quite pricey.

"The All-Star Game itself is largely sold out, and the tickets that are left are very pricey," Gilbert said. "Thankfully, there is so much for the public to take advantage of to be a part of this entire weekend."

One of the big unknowns still out there is health protocols. We've had a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past few months in the area, but things seem to be trending in the right direction. Gilbert says they've been discussing that with the NBA's medical team and other organizations around town, with a final decision expected soon.

"The Cavs have done a great job of hosting major events," he added. "Not just the Cavs over and over, but concerts and the Rock Hall inductions, so we feel pretty good. I would expect, probably in the next week or 10 days, there will be an announcement of what the final protocols will be."

No matter what the protocols are, thousands of people will be coming to Cleveland on the weekend of Feb. 18, and Gilbert says they'll be leaving impressed.

"We know from research the perception of Cleveland," he admitted. "We've always had issues, but it is certainly getting much better. We also know the No. 1 way to change someone's perception of Cleveland is to get them here. That's a big part of what these events are all about."

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