• Preparations Underway For NBA All-Star Weekend

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV got a look at the preparations underway to host the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando next February.

    While millions of fans will descend on the city, planners want to shut down entire lanes of city streets just to make sure some VIP's don't sit in traffic.

    Imagine 80,000 people in downtown Orlando, which is nearly half the city's population. City leaders expect at least that for the NBA All-Star weekend in eight months.

    "We literally will have people from all over the world," said John Ippel, project manager.

    Ippel is responsible for logistics, and met with NBA officials this week to work on the security plan. Orlando police will need help from the FBI, Orange County deputies and surrounding law enforcement.

    What they don't know is how many officers Orlando will get. The Daytona 500 is the same weekend, so the NBA wants to make sure the city can handle the traffic.

    City leaders said they won't have to do any major construction downtown. But several roads will be blocked off, including one lane which will only be used to get VIP's to and from the Amway Center as quickly as possible.

    The NBA and Orlando Magic foot a majority of the bill. Orlando only had to set aside $700,000 for overtime expenses. In return, the city expects to generate between $65 million and $80 million. Because large events are normally held at the convention center, the city hasn't seen revenue close to that at one time since the 1994 World Cup.

    "Last year in Dallas they drove something like that and they had a blizzard," said Gabriel Rathweg, Draft Orlando manager.

    Rathweg manages Draft Orlando, a downtown beer lounge and grill located across the street from the Amway Center, and it already has private events booked for the weekend.

    Even though it's called the All-Star weekend, events are spread over five days and most are free, excluding the game. But only about 2,000 of the 18,000 tickets at Amway will be available for the general public.

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