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Dave McMenamin

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London calling for the NBA All-Star Game?

By Dave McMenamin,
Posted Jun 7 2009 10:09PM

LOS ANGELES -- The NBA All-Star Game will return to Los Angeles in 2011, just seven years after the city last hosted the event. Is London or another international city a possible location for the event in the near future?

Commissioner David Stern made the announcement Sunday prior to Game 2 with AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke at his side. AEG, which owns Staples Center and L.A. Live, the entertainment district adjacent to the arena, also happens to own the O2 Arena in London as well as other state-of-the-art sports arenas around the world.

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"We had a great experience with them in London," Leiweke said, referring to the 2007 Europe Live preseason exhibition game between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. "Clearly they know it's the No. 1 arena right now in the world as far as events and activity, and we'd like to do something else with them over there."

Stern joked that AEG is a small company that can't afford to bring the All-Star Game overseas, but the league has made adjustments to the February showcase in recent years that suggest it would be open to taking the game abroad.

Three seasons ago, the All-Star Game was held in Las Vegas, a non-NBA host city. The '10 All-Star Game will be held in a non-NBA arena at the new Cowboys Stadium, home to Dallas' NFL franchise. Having the game in London would also be a good gauge of local interest in having a European division added to the league, something that Stern has expressed desire to see happen before his tenure is up.

As for the 2011 All-Star Game returning to L.A. so soon, Stern said the league is likely to "shorten the rotation a bit" when it chooses venues in the future, similar to the way the NCAA has a go-to list of cities for the Final Four.

"It's getting more difficult to find cities with the kinds of amenities, close hotel accommodations, the convention center and the like and L.A. has been a popular destination," Stern said.

It will be the fifth All-Star Game for Los Angeles, the only city to have teams in all of the NBA's leagues with the Lakers and Clippers as well as the Sparks of the WNBA and the D-Fenders of the D-League.

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa estimated the event will bring in $100 million in revenue to the city.

"This will be a great shot in the arm, a great opportunity for us to show off L.A., particularly downtown L.A.," Villarigosa said.

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