Two years from today, all eyes will be on Indianapolis as the city hosts the 70th NBA All-Star Game on Valentine's Day in 2021.
Preparations are well underway for the return of the NBA's signature event to the Circle City for the first time since 1985. Shortly after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced in Dec. 2017 that NBA All-Star 2021 would return to Indianapolis, city leaders came together and formed the 2021 NBA All-Star Local Organizing Committee to plan for the event.
On Wednesday, the Local Organizing Committee announced its first major community initiative for NBA All-Star 2021. Nothing But Knit calls on fans to help create 5,000 Nothing But Knit beanies to be worn by volunteers and frontline hospitality employees during the NBA All-Star 2021 and given as gifts to All-Star players, coaches and other NBA VIPs.
In creating Nothing But Knit, the Local Organizing Committee drew inspiration from a similar campaign that asked fans to knit scarves when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl in 2012.
"Nothing But Knit provides a great way for us to reach out to other parts of our community to engage them in our planning so we are game-ready for February 2021," said Carolene Mays-Medley, Executive Director of the White River State Park Development Commission and a member of the Local Organizing Committee. "We're calling on all those who knit and crochet to get your needles moving."
Interested knitters can visit Pacers.com/NothingButKnit for detailed instructions on where to pick up knitting kits, patterns, and more. The Pacers will also host knitting events at upcoming games on Feb. 28, March 12, and April 1 and the first 50 knitters to RSVP for any of those dates to NothingButKnit@pacers.com will receive two complimentary tickets to that night's game.
And while All-Star guard Victor Oladipo will be unable to represent the Pacers organization in the 2019 All-Star Game in Charlotte on Sunday as he recovers from season-ending surgery, the Pacers will still send a contingent to North Carolina, just as they have done for the three previous All-Star host cities.
Pacers Sports & Entertainment President and COO Rick Fuson serves as chairman of the Local Organizing Committee. The four co-chairs of the committee are Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever legend and current PS&E Director of Player Programs and Franchise Development), Cindy Simon Skjodt (philanthropist and niece of Pacers owner Herb Simon), Aasif Bade (President of Ambrose Property Group), and Rafael Sanchez (President of Private Banking for Old National Bank).
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE 2021 ALL-STAR GAME: Pacers.com/AllStar2021 »
"We're there to learn," Fuson said about the group's visits to All-Star Weekend. "Although I believe that Indianapolis does events better than anybody else — we have the best downtown for an event like this — we still can learn and we can still get ideas from other folks. That's why we continue to go to these events."
After this weekend, there will only be one more All-Star Game (Chicago in 2020) before it is Indianapolis' turn to host the prestigious event. Rest assured, the Local Organizing Committee will continue its tireless effort to ensure that not only are they ready for 2021, but that they raise the bar for future host cities.
"We are committed," Fuson said. "Herb Simon, our owner, and (President of Basketball Operations) Kevin Pritchard and all of us are committed to making this the best All-Star game ever."