CHARLOTTE, NC (Bruce Henderson/Charlotte Observer) - When the world, or what seemed like it, came to Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, uptown braced for a week of tight security and congested streets.
The NBA All-Star weekend Friday through Sunday might make the DNC seem quaint.
The NBA expects 150,000 visitors, a crowd four times larger than 2012’s, to arrive for three frenetic days of parties and basketball that will spill from uptown’s Spectrum Center to Bojangles’ Coliseum on Independence Boulevard. Many uptown workers will work from home Friday.
The Observer’s NBA reporter, Rick Bonnell, reported recently that the All-Star Game even turned Las Vegas to gridlock when it hosted the event in 2007. Bonnell has covered eight of the events and wrote that “they take over a center city in a way town folk generally find a startle.”
WHEN ARE THE EVENTS?
Friday: NBA All-Star celebrity game (sold out), 7 p.m., Bojangles’ Coliseum; Rising Stars game, 9 p.m., Spectrum Center. Go here for tickets.
Saturday: All-Star practice (sold out), noon, Bojangles’ Coliseum; slam dunk contest, 3-point shootout, 8 p.m., Spectrum Center (tickets not on sale to public)
Sunday: All-Star game, 8 p.m., Spectrum Center (tickets not on sale to public)
Free fan events: The Epicentre will host daily events starting at noon. Registration is recommended.
WHAT STREETS WILL BE CLOSED OR CONGESTED?
Streets around the Spectrum Center will be closed due to heavy foot traffic — city officials warn drivers to avoid uptown before and during that weekend if possible. Streets around Spectrum will close Thursday night: Caldwell and Brevard streets between 4th and 6th streets, and East Trade and East 5th streets between College and North Davidson streets.
The Charlotte Department of Transportation recommends that drivers also avoid Independence Boulevard and the Bojangles’ Coliseum area on Friday afternoon, in advance of the All-Star celebrity game at Bojangles’ at 7 p.m. Parking around the AvidXchange Music Factory will be limited, CDOT adds.
Streets in SouthPark will not be closed, but city officials expect traffic to be heavy.
Electric scooters and bicycles won’t be allowed near Spectrum Center. Uber and Lyft pickup locations will be at 3rd and 8th avenues for the Spectrum Center, and Independence at Paul Buck Boulevard for Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Lane closures for construction work on bridges along Interstate 277 will be suspended from Thursday morning until Monday night.
WHERE CAN I PARK UPTOWN?
Uptown garages are likely to be full. Valet parking won’t be available and most on-street parkingwill be off-limits. The city warns that cars parked at bagged meters will be towed.
WHAT CHANGES WILL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SEE?
CATS’ uptown transportation center will close Friday morning until Monday morning. but operate temporarily at the parking lot across from the Lynx 7th Street parking deck. The temporary center will have a heated waiting area and restrooms.
CATS buses also won’t enter the SouthPark Community Transit Center on the parking deck of SouthPark Mall. Detours will affect routes 19, 28, 30 and 57.
The Lynx Blue Line will run through the weekend but with extra security measures.
Purses, backpacks, suitcases, large totes and bulky items won’t be allowed on board or at platforms Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After 5 p.m. each of those days, Lynx riders will be required to carry their belongings in clear bags.
Also that weekend, riders from Interstate 485 to UNC Charlotte will have to exit at the 3rd Street station and riders going from the UNCC main station to I-485 will exit at the 7th Street station for security sweeps. Only riders who carry belongings in clear bags, or don’t carry anything, will be allowed to reboard the train after the sweeps.
The CTC/Arena station will be closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5 p.m. until the end of the day.
The Gold Line streetcar service won’t run during All-Start Weekend. Riders will be directed to bus routes.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW IF I’M GOING TO THE SPECTRUM CENTER?