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Phoenix lands 2027 NBA All-Star, WNBA heading back to Canada

Featured image credit: Footprint Center

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has awarded its 2027 All-Star event to Phoenix, while the WNBA has announced that its second Canada Game will take place in Edmonton.

The 76th All-Star Game will take place at Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Suns, on Sunday, February 21, 2027.  This will mark the city’s fourth NBA All-Star, having previously hosted the event in 1975, 1995 and 2009.

NBA All-Star on-court events will tip off on February 19 at Footprint Center with NBA Rising Stars, an annual showcase for top rookies and second-year players.  On the following day, All-Star Saturday Night will feature the Skills Challenge, the 3-Point Challenge and Slam Dunk.

The NBA will also host several events at venues throughout Phoenix, including All-Star Practice, the All-Star Celebrity Game and an All-Star fan fest.

Yesterday’s (Thursday’s) announcement marks the latest accomplishment for Suns chairman Mat Ishbia, who is now just over one year into his ownership of the franchise. These achievements have included landing hosting rights to the 2024 WNBA All-Star.

“Phoenix is the ultimate basketball destination and we are excited for fans from around the world to experience our amazing city,” said Ishbia. “We will provide an NBA All-Star Weekend unlike any other, showcasing the passion of our fans, our city, and everything that we’re building here.”

In January, Intuit Dome secured its latest major event ahead of its opening later this year, with the NBA awarding All-Star 2026 to Los Angeles.

In November, the NBA announced that Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors, will host its All-Star Game in 2025. This year’s All-Star Game took place at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, on February 18.

WNBA returning north of the border

The WNBA has also announced that the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm will face off in a preseason game on May 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The 2024 WNBA Canada Game will be the league’s second preseason game to ever be played in Canada and the fourth in total outside of the United States, following previous games in Toronto (2023); Manchester, England (2011) and Monterrey, Mexico (2004).

Last season’s inaugural WNBA Canada Game saw the Chicago Sky defeat the Minnesota Lynx 82-74 in front of a sold-out crowd at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The preseason game set records for broadcast viewership, attendance and merchandise sales in Canada, with Toronto this week being strongly linked to an expansion franchise for a league that has all its teams based in the US. 

The WNBA in October awarded its first expansion franchise since 2008 to the Golden State Warriors, with the new outfit to play at Chase Center. The team is due to debut in 2025, but further expansion talk is rife for a league that is seeing strong growth trends.

The WNBA is coming off its most-watched regular season in 21 years. Viewership for the 2023 season across the league’s national television partners in the U.S. and Canada was up 21% and 32%, respectively, over the 2022 season. The league also set new highs across WNBA digital platforms and social media engagement.

According to the Associated Press, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert maintained yesterday that Golden State would be the only expansion team for 2025, with a view to adding further teams for “2026 and beyond”.

Meanwhile, discussing the prospect of staging regular season games outside of the US, Engelbert stated: “It’s something we’re thinking about for the future. We’ll be looking at it in years we don’t have international competitions to interrupt the season.”