The 2023 NBA All-Star festivities are right around the corner and Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith are hoping the event-filled weekend will showcase Utah in all the best ways.

“This is a really important moment for our state to shine,” Ryan Smith said Monday morning.

“Every kid is going to come and be able to shoot. And whether it’s shooting a 3-pointer or whether it’s meeting a legend, just to get that basketball experience. We’re a basketball state and this is a basketball convention.” — Jazz owner Ryan Smith on All-Star Weekend

The Smiths are hoping everything the state has to offer — from tourism, restaurants, natural beauty and the ticketed All-Star events, to retail, popup shops, free All-Star events, conferences, charitable opportunities and more — will show people coming to Utah during the All-Star break that Utah is not only a destination, but a place that can offer long-term opportunities.

But aside from showcasing the state and making sure the message about Utah comes across, the Smiths are hoping that the All-Star events can be as inclusive as possible.

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“I’ve been to All-Star (events) where you go and it’s like, ‘I just want a ball and want to shoot,’ and there was no ball and no court,” Ryan said. “We have 14 different courts and on top of that a bunch of carnival games. Every kid is going to come and be able to shoot. And whether it’s shooting a 3-pointer or whether it’s meeting a legend, just to get that basketball experience. We’re a basketball state and this is a basketball convention.”

Smith remembers being a kid the last time the All-Star Game was hosted in Utah, 30 years ago, and not being able to go to the main event because tickets for the All-Star Game itself, unfortunately, price out the average NBA fan. So creating events that are affordable and attainable for everyone was an important component for the Smiths.

If you’re wanting to go to All-Star Saturday night, which includes the 3-point Contest, Dunk Contest and Skills Challenge, or for the main event on Sunday, the All-Star Game, ticket packages start between $999 and $1,399, depending on what events you want to include in a package. But those prices aren’t realistic for everyone and tickets are limited.

“If you think about how many are really for sale, and not given to the league, teams, corporate sponsors (etc), there’s not as many tickets as you would think. It’s not a regular game,” Smith said before explaining the importance of creating events that are priced reasonably. “So absolutely. There’s Jam Session, the HBCU Classic, we have free events. The HBCU Classic has tickets starting at $10, the Rising Stars game, I looked and you could find tickets for $45. If people want to go, there’s something for everyone. And that’s been really, really important to us, having been in that spot.”

From throughout the Salt Palace, inside The Gateway, popups and events surrounding the arena, along the streets in downtown Salt Lake City and even inside the TRAX cars, there will be events from morning until the wee hours of the night during All-Star Weekend and the Smiths are planning to be a part of everything they possibly can.

“We can sleep the week after,” Smith said. “You get to do this once every 30 years. We’re gonna rally. I’ve told everyone that we’re up at six and we’re gonna go. I want to be at the HBCU game. I want to be at Jam Session. There’s a pitch competition for Black entrepreneurs. There’s a Pride event we’re going to be at. I mean, one of us is going to be somewhere. We’re going to be going and we might be dragging five kids along, but that’s OK.”

As the countdown begins until the official festivities begin Feb. 17, Ashley Smith said that she knows that the natural beauty of Utah will speak for itself and all of the work that’s gone on behind the scenes to make the All-Star Weekend a success will be on display, and so on top of all of that, she is hoping to show the NBA world what makes Utah special.

“We’re massively passionate about Utah,” she said. “What a cool opportunity for everyone else to see what we see. We kind of have it all here. That’s what I always say, Utah has it all. We’ve got this awesome tech sector and we have the culture generosity and we have the physical beauty and we have so much that is really cool. To have a platform to showcase to everyone else what we see, I just can’t wait for next week.”