Everything you need to know

Chicago is hosting the WNBA All-Star Game for the first time this weekend at Wintrust Arena — home of the defending champion Sky. There will be several festivities to observe and partake in at the 10,387-seat venue and surrounding area, so here’s a breakdown of what to know, what to see, where to go and how to get there.

The All-Star Game will be played at noon Sunday at Wintrust Arena and will air on ABC-7. Other major events this weekend include the 3-point contest and skills challenge, which will be carried on ESPN at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The WNBA switched to a team-captain format in 2018, and this year’s teams are led by A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces and Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm. Aces coach Becky Hammon will serve as the coach of Team Wilson, while the Sky’s James Wade will coach Team Stewart.

Sky star Candace Parker was selected with the No. 1 pick in the All-Star selection draft.

Team Wilson

Kelsey Plum

Guard, Aces, 1st All-Star selection.

Plum was named the 2021 Sixth Player of the Year and won a gold medal in 3×3 in the 2021 Olympic Games.

Sabrina Ionescu

Guard, New York Liberty, 1st All-Star selection.

After a decorated college career at Oregon, Ionescu was the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft.

Candace Parker

Forward, Sky, 7th All-Star selection.

The Naperville Central alumna is a two-time WNBA champion and two-time WNBA MVP.

A’ja Wilson (captain)

Forward, Aces, 4th All-Star selection.

Wilson was rookie of the year in 2018 and WNBA MVP in 2020.

Sylvia Fowles

Center, Minnesota Lynx, 8th All-Star selection.

Fowles, who started her WNBA career with the Sky in 2008, announced that 2022 will be her final season. She is a former WNBA MVP, two-time Finals MVP and two-time league champion.

Reserves: Ariel Atkins (G, Washington Mystics), Rhyne Howard (G, Atlanta Dream), Courtney Vandersloot (G, Sky), Dearica Hamby (F, Aces), Natasha Howard (F, Liberty) and Brionna Jones (F, Sun).

Team Stewart

Sue Bird

Guard, Storm, 13th All-Star selection.

Bird, a four-time WNBA champion, announced that this season would be her last.

Jackie Young

Guard, Aces, 1st All-Star selection.

Drafted in 2019, Young is the second Notre Dame player to be selected No. 1 overall.

Breanna Stewart (captain)

Forward, Storm, 4th All-Star selection.

Stewart is a former WNBA MVP, two-time Finals MVP and three-time league champion.

Nneka Ogwumike

Forward, Los Angeles Sparks, 7th All-Star selection.

Oguwimike, the first selection in the 2012 draft, was the 2016 WNBA MVP.

Jonquel Jones

Forward, Connecticut Sun, 4th All-Star selection.

One of the best rebounders in the WNBA, Jones is the reigning MVP.

Reserves: Kahleah Copper (G, Sky), Skylar Diggins-Smith (G, Phoenix Mercury), Jewell Loyd (G, Storm), Arike Ogunbowale (G, Dallas Wings), Emma Meesseman (F, Sky) and Alyssa Thomas (F, Sun).

Brittney Griner (honorary)

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert named Griner, who has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17, an honorary starter for this year’s event.

Kahleah Copper

Drafted seventh overall in 2016 by the Mystics, the 6-1 guard was traded to the Sky in 2017 in the deal that sent Elena Delle Donne to the Mystics. The 2021 WNBA Finals MVP also won the 2022 Euroleague regular-season MVP. This is the Philadelphia native’s second straight All-Star appearance.

Emma Meesseman

The 6-4 power forward was picked by the Mystics in the second round of the 2013 draft. In 2019, the Belgium native became the first reserve player in WNBA history to win Finals MVP. This is her second All-Star appearance.

Courtney Vandersloot

Selected third overall by the Sky in the 2011 draft, Vandersloot will be making her fourth All-Star appearance. In 2021, the 5-8 point guard recorded the most assists in a single postseason in WNBA history.

James Wade

Known as “Coco,” Wade is the Sky head coach and general manager. He was named the 2019 coach of the year. In 2021 he led the team to its first league championship. In this year’s All-Star Game, Wade will coach Team Stewart.

Wintrust Arena is located at 200 E. Cermak Road, near McCormick Place.

There are three parking lots at McCormick Place, the closest to the arena located at 2301 S. Prairie Ave. Street parking is possible but not recommended — be conscious of signage requiring permits or other restrictions.

Public transportation might be your best option. Wintrust Arena is served by CTA bus Nos. 3 King Drive, 21 Cermak Road and 4 Cottage Grove.

You can take the CTA Green Line to the Cermak-McCormick Place stop, about three blocks from the arena, or the Red Line to the Cermak-Chinatown stop, about four blocks away.

Two Metra stops — 18th Street and McCormick Place — are within walking distance for lines servicing the South Side.

Friday, July 8

  • Orange Carpet, evening: The WNBA social media accounts will cover players — and their sense of style — as they walk the orange carpet.

Saturday, July 9

New this year is WNBA Live, a series of events that will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the corner of East Cermak Road and South Indiana Avenue. The showcase is free but requires registration. Here are the events:

  • Welcome, 11 a.m.: Sky players kick off WNBA Live with an official welcome.
  • Title IX discussion, noon: Moderated by two-time WNBA champion Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the panel discussion features the Liberty’s Betnijah Laney and the Lynx’s Napheesa Collier and will focus on gender equity and the future of women’s sports.
  • Viewing party, 2 p.m.: Join an outdoor viewing party for the 3-point contest and skills competition.
  • Sky meet and greet, 3 p.m.: Sky players Kahleah Copper and Azurá Stevens are scheduled to meet fans.
  • Basketball clinic, 3 p.m.: This free clinic focuses on teaching fundamentals to youth basketball players.

Sunday, July 10

All events take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at WNBA Live.

  • All-Star Game viewing party, noon: Fans not inside Wintrust Arena can attend a watch party hosted by DJ Megan Taylor.
  • Celebrations, postgame: All-Star Game festivities conclude with a party and music from Chicago artist Senite.

Yes! The Sky guard and DePaul alumna will be aiming for her fourth title in the contest — that’s despite her promise that last year’s triumph would be her last appearance. Quigley also won in 2017 and 2018.

“Everybody was talking to me nonstop about it,” Quigley said Wednesday. “I didn’t want to let the city down or my family and friends down. It’ll be fun and it’s nice that it’s at home. It’ll be a good experience.”

The rest of the field has not been announced.

Player activism: WNBA stars are among the most vocal athletes, in many cases more so than their male counterparts. Players this weekend undoubtedly will speak out on Griner’s detention in Russia and the U.S. government’s response to it.

Players also have been outspoken about the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, LGBTQ rights and other issues.

Candace Parker and Sylvia Fowles’ relationship: Parker and Fowles have a long history together. They were opponents in college at Tennessee and LSU, Olympic teammates on Team USA in 2008 and 2012 and inducted into the SEC Hall of Fame at the same time. In the 2016 WNBA Finals, Parker and the Sparks defeated Fowles and the Lynx.

In Fowles’ final All-Star appearance, she and Parker are once again matched up as competitors.

Friday, July 8

  • Playa Society pop-up, 3-5 p.m.: The apparel brand will do giveaways and more at 16th Street Bar & Lounge, 75 E. 16th St.

Wintrust Arena’s bag policy is stricter than most other Chicago sports venues. Purses, backpacks, cinch bags and fanny packs are prohibited.

Clear tote bags no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches are OK, as are one-gallon plastic storage bags. A small clutch purse no larger than 4½ inches by 6½ inches is acceptable.

Freelance reporter James Kay contributed.

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