NBA All-Star weekend bringing a lot of stars, cash to Houston

January 31, 2013 7:56:41 AM PST
We are just two weeks away from the NBA All-Star weekend taking over the Toyota Center.

On Wednesday morning, tickets for a few of the festivities sold out in a matter of minutes. And the weekend's impact is reaching well beyond the world of basketball.

The NBA All-Star weekend starts February 15, and it's not all about the game. There are many parties and other events, too, and the city is doing all it can to keep up.

As a host and reporter for Houston's public radio, Laurie Johnson is usually in the know, though somehow she overlooked the NBA All-Star weekend.

"Had no idea, did not realize it," she said.

It wouldn't be a big deal any other time, but Johnson and her fiance are planning a wedding, and it just so happens to be that weekend. She finally found a hotel room, but a getaway car for the newlyweds -- well, it hasn't happened.

"Everybody is either fully booked or they want is to rent for the entire weekend," she said.

By now, almost all downtown hotel rooms are booked and private transportation is going fast.

One Wednesday, City Council approved issuing temporary permits to limo drivers.

There are 1,600 luxury vehicles in the city and industry association president Erich Reindl says they'll be needed.

"Every ground transportation business will have tremendous impact," Reindl said.

For three days, thousands are expected to swarm the blocks around the Toyota Center and beyond, translating into big dollars.

"The direct spend is almost $60 million and then when you take that and talk about economic impact, you're looking closer to just under a 100," said Greg Ortale with the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

It's adding even more excitement to Johnson's wedding weekend.

"We figured all the NBA stars are turning out for our wedding and we're really grateful," she said.

This will be Houston's third time to host the NBA All-Star game. City leaders expect about 50,000 visitors to be in town for the event.

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