NBA AllStar game puts Phoenix back in spotlight 2009: Nations Fifthlargest

NBA AllStar game puts Phoenix back in spotlight

The nation's fifth-largest city has been in the national spotlight in recent years, mostly because of high-profile sporting events.

The latest is the NBA All-Star game in Phoenix on Sunday, airing in 215 countries in 44 languages. "Vignettes of blue skies and majestic mountains and swaying palm trees will be played out in all of these broadcasts," said Ray Artigue, executive director of the MBA Sports Business program at Arizona State University. "That's a postcard for the (area) and the state that all the collective chambers of commerce couldn't afford to buy. It's tremendous exposure." And that's just the actual game. Dozens of glitzy events kicked into high gear Thursday and will continue throughout the weekend. Among them are a party hosted by the Phoenix Suns' Amare Stoudemire on Thursday night, a Playboy Magazine party Friday and a celebrity charity dinner hosted by the Suns' Steve Nash on Friday at $13,000 a plate. Plenty of celebrities are in town, and pop singer Katy Perry, rapper Snoop Dogg, and DJ Jazzy Jeff, among others, are set to perform. Sporting events outside Sunday's game include a celebrity basketball game Friday and a slam-dunk contest Saturday. "It's awesome, especially for the businesses down here," said longtime Phoenix resident Robin Lechner, a 36-year-old restaurant manager. "I definitely think it puts us on the map. The city is building and growing, so I think people are checking Arizona out, coming to Phoenix and thinking it's a place they might want to visit more." Wayne Floyd of Seattle, who was strolling around downtown Phoenix amid clear blue skies and 60-degree weather, said he flew to Arizona for the game and the sun.

"It's raining in Seattle, it's cold," he said. "I haven't worn shorts in a long time."

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