Hey Now You’re an All-Star

As many of you know, I am not a big fan of baseball commissioner Bud Selig. To me he is the embodiment of much that is wrong with the game of baseball. Oh sure his supporters will point to Inter-league play, the wild card, and resurgence of fans flocking to the ballparks. Granted those are all noble accomplishments but I strongly believe that they would have happened regardless of who happened to be the commissioner of baseball. Each time I hear the commissioner speak I come away feeling as though I am about to be fleeced. Perhaps it is the fact that Mr. Selig used to be a used car salesman that gives me the hee bee jeebies. Wow, I think that is the first time in my life that I have ever used the term “hee bee jeebies” in a sentence that didn’t include some reference to crayons or old people. The point with Bud Selig is that he rarely makes a decision or present an idea when he doesn’t already have all the votes already aligned to make sure that the outcome will go exactly how he wants it. Perhaps that is just pragmatically playing the political game with owners or players but to fans it comes across as sleazy. So when it was announced that commissioner Bud Selig would be holding a press conference at Chase Field I was both curious and apprehensive.

A make shift stage was created on top of the Arizona Diamondbacks dugout and seated on the stand were Mr. Selig accompanied by Diamondbacks General Partner Ken Kendrick, Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors member Mary Rose Wilcox, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, and Preside of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau Steve Moore. As the press conference started Mayor Gordon was conspicuously absent but did show up 7 minutes late.

“It’s always a good day to be a Diamondback, but some days it’s a great day to be a Diamondback, and this is one of those days”

– Ken Kendrick
Diamondbacks General Partner

The purpose of the press conference was to announce that the Arizona Diamondbacks would play host to the 2011 All-Star game. The Diamondbacks have been pressing the commissioner to host the mid-summer classic for many years; a fact the commissioner eluded to when he called Ken Kendrick and Derrick Hall “pests” at their constant dialog about when it would be Arizona’s turn to host a game.

The economic impact of an All-Star game could be huge for the Phoenix area which is currently in a severe economic downturn. Selig tossed around numbers such as $30 million which could be raised for charity just for the Home Run Derby. Initial estimates show the potential impact of the game to be upwards of $150 million. It is not just the All-Star game itself, the midsummer classic has become nearly a week long event which includes the Home Run Derby, the Futures game showcasing the young talent coming up in the game, and fan fest which the commissioner is extremely excited about.

The festivities are tentatively scheduled for July 8-12 which will itself introduce a lot of challenges. Temperatures in July average well over 100 degrees which will most likely dictate the roof being closed for the game. That will be a shame since there would just be something special about seeing the roof open and having overhead shots during the Home Run Derby as balls are tracked flying through the desert night. With Friday’s Front Row Grill and the swimming pool in right center field there will be additional targets for players to aim for. And perhaps finally we could see someone hit a ball out one of the outfield panels. In the first eleven years of existence only Mark McGwire has accomplished that feat and that during batting practice.

Having the All-Star game and its peripheral activities will do much to boost the national exposure of the Diamondbacks. A buzz is already occurring with the Diamondbacks already fielding questions of how fans can secure tickets to the events. At the time of the announcement the team stated that full season ticket holders will be given first opportunity to purchase All-Star packages. The team will use season ticket priority numbers to determine who will be offered ticket opportunities.

At the conclusion of the press conference the Diamondbacks unveiled a sign on the left field wall designating Chase Field as home of the 2011 All-Star game. Ken Kendrick was right when he said that today was indeed a great day to be a Diamondback. I’m already looking forward to 2011 and seeing baseball’s biggest stars all take the field to compete for World Series home field advantage. Hopefully the Diamondbacks will have a vested interest not just as the host but also as one of the favorites to play in the World Series. Now that would be a great day.

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