With no shortage of stars to choose from, it’s time to cast those ballots as voting is officially underway for the 2019 WNBA All-Star game. Fans around the world have the opportunity to let their voices be heard by selecting their favorite players to compete in the midseason showcase. Of course, many familiar faces will get to Vegas. But, this season is shaping up to have a few first time appearances.
With the Las Vegas Aces serving as host team in one of the country’s hottest party destinations (literally and figuratively), you can pretty much guarantee that this year’s event will be one to remember. The Aces owners, MGM Resorts International, are no stranger to shows. Quite honestly, saying they’re experts in this exact type of event would be an understatement.
This year, the WNBA will make All-Star weekend a two-day event. The league recently announced that festivities will officially tip off on Friday, July 26. A Fan Fest will start the day, followed by the WNBA All-Star Friday Night. This event, scheduled to air on ESPN, will include the 3-Point Contest and the return of the Skills Challenge. An All-Star Beach Concert & Party will end the day. *Cue the music* “Meet me at the beach. It’s going down.”
Now this is what I’m talking about! It’s exciting and sounds like complete fun all around. Expanding from just the regular exhibition game day is a step in the right direction. It will get fans more engaged with All Star Weekend and allow even more interaction with its stars. This creates more memories for fans both young and old. Hopefully, it continues to grow the game.
My only other All-Star experience came just a few years ago. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much for me to do outside of the game that Saturday – which I almost missed. I’ll blame the time difference for that. However, that’s a story for another day. Let’s get back on topic. There were some events around town. But, they were pretty much exclusively for league insiders only and I hadn’t started covering the league yet.
My group ended up touring the city, occasionally bumping into some of the all-star athletes. They were all gracious enough to stop for selfies – or “USies.” We ran into Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Courtney Vandersloot, and Jewell Loyd, to name a few. The memory of those stars stopping to share a moment with us will be forever etched in my mind. The WNBA’s athletes are some of the most giving, genuine, and humble people you can find.
GET TO THE DESERT THIS SUMMER
Picture it. You’re at the fan fest grabbing food and snapping pics with Natasha Howard and Elena Delle Donne. Then, you’re off to compete for prizes with other fans while special guest judge, Jonquel Jones, laughs in excitement. Then, you head in to the arena to see if Allie Quigley can make it three in a row as 3 Point Champ. Next, you’re swag surging with A’ja Wilson and Tamera Young at the beach party while DJ Liz Cambage is spinning the hottest tunes. Sounds like fun, right? Well, get to Las Vegas on July 26th and take it all in for yourself.
Those are the interactions and memories that an extended or loaded WNBA All-Star weekend can provide. Getting up close with these women that many see as role models could be life changing for some of the future stars of the league and for the fan experience as a whole. This is an investment that could pay major dividends. It shows fans that the league cares. When the consumer feels that connection, they’re inclined to continue their support. Increased support allows for additional events which, in turn, could eventually lead to a better product. Hello, expansion? Okay. Let me slow down.
In the official announcement, WNBA COO Christy Hedgpeth shared in the overall buzz and excitement for the added events. “The WNBA is excited to add the events of All-Star Friday Night to the calendar for AT&T WNBA All-Star 2019. What better place than Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world, for the WNBA’s most talented and dynamic players to headline a show,” she said. “The competitions along with special entertainment and a festive beach party all combine to make the WNBA All-Star 2019 the place to be.”
With growing popularity and increased ratings, it seems like the league is making moves to capitalize off this momentum. With the wait time dwindling, it’s exciting to think about what the WNBA, MGM and Aces have in store for all in attendance. One could only expect a full house – no pun intended. Every year All-Star weekend has substantially improved, and this year looks to be no exception. How high will the bar be set?
We’re still over a month away, but VIVA LAS VEGAS!