The Utes Head To Arizona Over NBA All-Star Weekend
SALT LAKE CITY – NBA All-Star Weekend has descended upon Salt Lake City and that includes the University of Utah where several events will be held.
With the Huntsman Center and Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Facility overtaken with NBA madness, the Runnin’ Utes, Utah women’s basketball and Red Rocks will all be hitting the road for Arizona over the weekend.
Up first, the Runnin’ Utes will be suiting up against No. 8 Arizona in a big rematch that could have some revenge elements attached Thursday night with an 8:00 pm MT tipoff. The women will follow up on Friday night in what should be a big rematch against No. 18 Arizona with a 7:00 pm MT tip. The men and women will then turn around Saturday and Sunday to take on Arizona State, while the Red Rocks round things out on Monday against the No. 20 Sun Devils.
While there was a certain element of disruption to the normal schedule for Utah’s main spring sports, all three head coaches expressed excitement and gratitude to be able to share their world class facilities with some of the best athletes in the world.
The #NBAAllStar Game is in SLC this weekend with events happening at the Huntsman Center.
Check out the impacts to campus here: https://t.co/xTMlw3mbr7 pic.twitter.com/Eus8eRSRL8
— University of Utah (@UUtah) February 14, 2023
A Big Opportunity
Runnin’ Utes head coach Craig Smith, Utah women’s basketball head coach Lynne Roberts, and Red Rocks head coach Tom Farden were all positive when asked about the impacts of the University of Utah being able to host some of the NBA All-Star events.
“There is no negative,” Smith said. “It’s amazing for our university, it’s outstanding for our athletic department, I think it’s outstanding for the city of Salt Lake and it’s great for our state in every way, shape and form. I saw an interview by the owner of the Jazz, Ryan Smith, and I believe he said that this state and the city expect roughly 125,000 visitors coming in from all over the world to be a part of the All-Star week festivities. It puts the spotlight on this state and our community, and certainly the University of Utah. For all of these All-Stars to come in and do events in the Huntsman Center and our practice facility puts the spotlight on it and we have an amazing place.”
Despite coaching a completely unrelated sport, Farden agrees that having the university be able to host a major event that brings attention to what is happening on campus is never a bad thing.
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“Any time that major sporting events like this are brought into the Salt Lake area- it’s a plus for all athletic programs in our valley,” Farden said. “It highlights what our city has to offer, and I believe that it’s unmatched. With the backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains, the cleanliness of our city, and the light rail and the way the city is laid out in terms of the grid system- the hotel amenities and top restaurants, it’s an amazing place. I know it’s not a hidden gem anymore, but it definitely helps highlight our city and our state.”
Roberts sees the benefits of the exposure an event like the NBA All-Star Weekend not only gives her program, but all of the programs within Utah Athletics, even if it comes at the cost of their locker room.
“We’re getting kicked out of our locker room for the celebrities, but it’s fine,” Roberts said laughing. “I think it’s great exposure for our university and Salt Lake City. Any inconvenience I think is overshadowed by that.”
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports
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