- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Sue Bird is thrilled for a chance to show off Seattle.

The Emerald City will host the WNBA All-Star Game next year for the first time, the league announced Wednesday.

“I’m really excited as a player who’s been here her whole career,” Bird said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “Really excited for the fans and for the city. This is a franchise that’s seen it all: No. 1 picks, championships, missed playoff runs, disappointing playoff runs. It’s time to see an All-Star Game.”

The game will take place on July 22.

“Historically, the All-Star Game has highlighted the absolute best in our world-class players - from Lisa Leslie’s dunk, to Shoni Schimmel’s otherworldly performance as a rookie, to the record-setting scoring efforts of Candace Parker in 2013 and Maya Moore in 2015 - and this time should only bring more excitement and moments for all to enjoy,” WNBA president Lisa Borders said.

The league didn’t have an All-Star Game last season because of the Olympics. The midseason showcase has been held out west only twice, both times in Phoenix, most recently in 2014.

The 2015 All-Star Game was held in Connecticut. The West beat the East 117-112 as Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx scored a game-record 30 points.

“I think Seattle is a sports town,” Bird said. “Yes, we could talk about women’s basketball with the Pac-12 tournament and what the Storm has done. It extends to all sports. This is a city that loves sports and deserving of the All-Star Game.”

While the league didn’t say whether there would be additions like a 3-point shootout or other events, Bird was in favor of adding more to the weekend than just the game.

“I would love for the 3-point contest to come back,” the veteran guard said.

The WNBA will begin its 21st season on May 13 with three games.

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