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Local and global NBA fans prepped for All-Star Weekend in Cleveland

Local artists Stina Aleah and Glen Infante displayed this piece at the NBA Crossover fan experience. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]
Local artists Stina Aleah and Glen Infante displayed this piece at the NBA Crossover fan experience. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Once again, Cleveland is center stage in the sports world as the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend has arrived.

Several events will be held Downtown at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, the Wolstein Center, Tower City Center and Public Auditorium.

The NBA Crossover fan experience features several virtual reality exhibits. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

The last time Cleveland hosted the NBA All-Star Game was in 1997. Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse was known as Gund Arena back then.

It was one of the first times the city’s Gateway Project, which brought new sports complexes to Downtown Cleveland, was put on a global stage.

Cleveland sports superfan Chris McNeil, who has a strong Twitter following as @Reflog_18, remembers it well.

“The entire vibe of the city has really improved since that time. The Gateway Project as it was known, when they put in Jacobs Field, and they put in the Gund, it was really the first steps in revitalizing what I think as the Downtown for Cleveland,” McNeil said.

This year between the competitions, pop-ups and the NBA Crossover fan experience at Public Auditorium, local makers — artists, chefs and musicians — are getting a chance to put their work on display.

Tacko Fall plays for the Cleveland Charge NBA G League team and sometimes for the Cavs. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Lidia Trempe, owner of Rudy's Strudel and Bakery in Parma, made pierogis for the NBA Crossover preview event on Thursday. It officially opens to the public at noon Friday.

"Oh my god, this is so exciting, like the whole world is converged on Cleveland. Of course. Like where else?” Trempe said.

Rudy's Strudel and Bakery served pieorgis for NBA Crossover Thursday. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

At the NBA Crossover event, fans can see art and memorabilia displays, win prizes and take part in a few different virtual games and experiences. Tickets are $30.

Justin Abadilla and a team of designers put together a giant basketball arcade game sponsored by the auto maker Kia.

This giant arcade basketball game is set up at Public Auditorium. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Abadilla, who is from Los Angeles, also worked in Cleveland for the Major League Baseball All-Star game fan experience in 2019.

"The party that we've got going on this weekend, I feel like it is just getting started and I look forward to everything that is coming up here for the town for the sport of basketball,” Abadilla said. “I think Cleveland is poised to do a great job hosting All-Star this year."

Several vintage video games are set up in the dining are of the NBA Crossover event. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission expects this weekend to provide a tremendous economic impact for the city, but Destination Cleveland’s President and CEO David Gilbert says Cleveland will also see a great benefit from folks just watching at home.   

“This event will be watched in over 200 countries. The NBA estimates that over two billion people will consume some part of this event,” Gilbert said on the Sound of Ideas on WCPN Thursday morning. “It’s a cultural phenomenon. The eyes of the basketball world truly will be on Cleveland.”

About 100,000 people are expected to visit Downtown Cleveland this weekend, many of whom will come from out of town.

Dylan Sadiq hauled his Rubic's Cube art from New Jersey to Ohio for the weekend. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Dylan Sadiq, a Rutgers University senior, was invited to put his NBA-themed Rubic's Cube art on display at the NBA Crossover event.

"My first time in Ohio. I drove here from New Jersey. Seven-and-a-half hours with all my equipment,” Sadiq said. “I have four different frames, about 2000 cubes, and this is my first time being here. And I'm really excited."

NBA Events

Friday - Sunday

NBA Crossover at Cleveland Public Auditorium, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.

NBA Ice Buckets Pop-Up at Tower City Center, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.


All-Star Celebrity Game at the Wolstein Center, 6:30 p.m.

Rising Stars Tournament at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, 9 p.m.


All-Star Practice at the Wolstein Center, 10:30 a.m.

HBCU Classic at the Wolstein Center, 2 p.m.

All-Star Saturday Night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, 8 p.m.


G League Next Gen Game at the Wolstein Center, 2 p.m.

All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, 8 p.m.

Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.