Officially, the NBA's position yesterday was that no decision had been made about the game, scheduled to be played Feb. 14 at the First Union Center. But lack of progress in the five-month-old labor dispute, which has prevented the NBA season from starting, had greatly diminished the likelihood.
``David alluded to that Thursday night,'' said NBA spokesman Chris Brienza, referring to NBA commissioner David Stern's comments last week that the game appeared in jeopardy.
``The All-Star Game is in trouble right now. We have been working all along towards making it possible. But given the situation, without a labor agreement and not being close to one, I would say it is in a little bit of trouble.''
When asked yesterday about the status of the game, David Coskey, a spokesman for the 76ers, said the team would have no comment.
Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for Mayor Rendell, said that Rendell had spoken to Stern ``very recently'' and the game was still on.
``We are reacting accordingly,'' Feeley said. ``We are preparing as though the game were still on.''
According to J. Mickey Rowley, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, none of the 18 hotels that have contracts with the NBA has been contacted by the league about a cancellation.
``If there isn't to be a game, we would prefer to hear sooner as opposed to later,'' he said.
Late last week, after the NBA's latest round of contract negotiations failed to trigger labor progress, the league began inquiring about how much local hotels might expect to lose if the game were canceled.
Before then, the league had taken the position that it would not be responsible for any losses by local hotels, according to a person familiar with the talks. The NBA based its position on a clause in the hotel contracts that would free it from damages if the game were canceled for reasons beyond the league's control.
Hotel owners, by contrast, believe their contracts would hold the league responsible for losses.
The league booked $3 million worth of rooms. The hotels could have seen another $3 million in food and beverage sales. The total loss likely would be less, because the NBA would not be responsible for rooms that the hotels subsequently rented out.
In Center City, the loss of business from NBA teams that haven't come to town for regular-season games apparently has not hurt hotels this fall.
Dana Ramus, vice president for PKF Consulting, said figures aren't available yet for November, but that business appears to have been almost as good as October, which was outstanding.
Hotels surveyed by PKF Consulting's Philadelphia office had what may have been their best month ever in October, selling out 91 percent of their available rooms.
``October is the strongest month of the year in Philadelphia, and this has been a phenomenal October,'' Ramus said. ``It may be a record. And November is looking pretty good, too.''
Beyond the hoteliers, the loss of the NBA All-Star Game would be significant to the city as a whole.
Officials in San Antonio, Texas, where the 1996 All-Star Game was played, estimated a direct and indirect economic impact of $45 million on their city. According to John Solis, director of special projects for the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, $6.5 million of that total was the result of visits by 14,400 tourists in town for the NBA's showcase event.
According to figures provided by the Philadelphia Sports Congress, the event here was expected to generate close to $35 million in total revenue for the city.
A portion of that figure had already been lost with the cancellation last month of the four-day Jam Session, which was expected to draw as many as 100,000 people to the Convention Center.
Since its debut in Salt Lake City in 1993, the Jam Session - which includes interactive displays, games and sponsors' booths - has served as part of the backdrop of the All-Star Game.
Getting the All-Star Game was considered a coup for the city and Pat Croce, the president of the 76ers, who was credited with persuading the league to bring the event to Philadelphia.
Now it appears that the Sixers would be unable to host an All-Star Game until 2002 at the earliest. Next season's game has been awarded to the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., and the 2001 game apparently has been all but promised to the Washington Wizards.
The closest thing to an All-Star Game this season was announced yesterday by agents David Falk and Arn Tellem. ``The Game on Showtime'' is set for Dec. 19 in Atlantic City, with proceeds going to charity and to NBA players in financial need.
Inquirer staff writer Tom Belden contributed to this article.