- Downtown L.A. businesses expect big profits on NBA All-Star weekend

With the Staples Center area transformed with the addition of high-end hotels and the L.A. Live complex, one forecast estimates the NBA All-Star weekend will generate more than $85 million in spending.

Official 2011 NBA All-Star basketballs sell for $77.45 at the Team LA store at Staples Center. The game is Feb. 20. (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times)

While merchants in Texas count their profits from Super Bowl XLV, downtown Los Angeles business owners are hoping for a big score from their own high-profile sporting event next weekend.

Downtown businesses expect to reap hefty profits when the NBA All-Star weekend rolls into Staples Center, drawing thousands of big-spending celebrities, professional athletes and die-hard hoops fans for four days of basketball, dinners and parties.

Although Los Angeles hosted the annual basketball celebration seven years ago, economists predict this year's event will generate even more profits. Now, visitors are expected to spend throughout the city but particularly at the trendy clubs, shops and restaurants at the L.A. Live entertainment complex and the 54-story JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotel tower built next to Staples Center over the last three years.

An economic-impact forecast commissioned by the LA Sports and Entertainment Commission, a nonprofit group that promotes sports and entertainment events in the city, estimates the event will generate more than $85 million in spending. That is an increase of at least 7% compared with the spending by visitors and locals during the NBA All-Star weekend in 2004.

"If they are going to spend $85 million, I need to get me some of that," Bell Cab driver Juan Rizo joked as he waited for customers near Staples Center, the home arena for the NBA's Lakers and Clippers and the NHL's L.A. Kings.

Already, restaurant managers, shopkeepers and fans as well as cab drivers are gearing up for the events, Friday through Monday. Staples Center has a capacity of about 19,000 for basketball games, but local boosters expect the event to draw at least 100,000 fans and participants.

The All-Star game itself is set for 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20.

At Rock'n Fish, a seafood restaurant at L.A. Live, general manager Luis Villaneda plans to add extra staff to handle the crowds during the event.

"An event like the NBA All-Star weekend will bring in lots of business," he said. "It will be like a big convention. It's a captive audience."

During the NBA All-Star weekend in 2004, Staples Center was surrounded by uninviting stretches of parking lots, warehouses and tired-looking office buildings. Today, the parking spaces and warehouses have been replaced by swanky clubs and restaurants like the Conga Room, Katsuya and WP24 at L.A. Live.

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