All-Star Game returning to Seattle

It won't be official until Thursday, but the news has been leaked by multiple sources: Seattle will host the MLB All-Star Game and its accompanying weekend of festivities in 2023. It will be the third time the Midsummer Classic was played here.

The last time the ASG graced the Emerald City was the magical summer of 2001, amidst the Mariners' 116-win season. The M's sent eight players to that year's AL squad (including winning pitcher Freddy Garcia), Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn were honored for their illustrious careers, and Commissioner Bud Selig performed one of his excitement-killing mid-game speeches to remind us all that he was a terrible commissioner (the current guy, of course, has reset the bar that much lower). The All-Star Game had previously been held in Seattle in 1979, when the M's had but one All-Star representative (first baseman Bruce Bochte) in a 95-loss season.

Used to be that every Major League city would get a turn to host the fun, All-Star Games were awarded on a more or less regular rotation. Nowadays it's different, with locales with new stadiums getting priority and franchises having to submit competing proposals for the Commissioner's Office to choose from. The Mariners submitted a proposal in 2019, which had to include not only information on the ballpark and stadium facility but the city infrastructure, hotel capacities, site possibilities for ancillary events, and other miscellany.

Thursday's official announcement will likely include specific dates, but just from looking at the calendar we can make the educated guess that these will be the dates to block out in your day planners:

  • Sunday July 9, 2023: Futures Game featuring the top prospects in the minor leagues, plus a celebrity softball game
  • Monday July 10, 2023: Home Run Derby
  • Tuesday July 11, 2023: MLB All-Star Game

In 2001, the tickets were pricey; as a season ticket holder in a group that shared the seats, I went to the Home Run Derby but passed on the ASG itself as even our upper-deck seats were beyond my budget. In ’23, I expect the cost to be way worse. We'll see.

Next year's ASG will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The 2024 and 2025 games have not been awarded to a site yet, but 2026 has been earmarked for Philadelphia, as part of a semiquincentennial celebration in that city (for those like me who haven't seen that word before, it refers to a 250th anniversary, in this case of the signing of the Declaration of Independence).

This year's game was originally slated to be held in Atlanta, which hasn't hosted since 2000, but thanks to Georgia's enactment of anti-democracy voter suppression laws it was moved to Denver. Whether Atlanta will be awarded the ’24 or ’25 game will likely depend on how their local politics play out; meanwhile, here are the cities that have gone the longest without hosting the ASG:

  • St. Petersburg: The Tampa Bay Rays have never hosted, because their stadium is terrible; they are unlikely to ever be awarded the game while they play at Tropicana Field.
  • Oakland: The Athletics last hosted in 1987, a thrilling game won by the National League in extra innings at the Oakland Coliseum. The A's are also unlikely to host again until they have new digs, as the Coliseum is looked upon unfavorably by, well, everyone that isn't just comparing it to Tropicana Field.
  • Chicago (north side): Though the White Sox hosted on the south side at New Comiskey Park/US Cellular Field/whatever corporate name it had then in 2003, the Cubs have not played host since 1990, when Wrigley Field got the game as a reward for finally installing lights a few years prior. With the renovations Wrigley has undergone, the Cubs seem a likely option for an upcoming ASG host.
  • Toronto: SkyDome/Rogers Centre was the host in 1991, a year that saw the Blue Jays win the AL East with 91 wins. It's the only time the Jays have played host and Toronto seems a likely choice for an upcoming ASG.
  • Baltimore: Seems weird, but the last time the Orioles hosted was in 1993, when Oriole Park at Camden Yards was just a year old. Ken Griffey Jr. hit the famed warehouse in the Home Run Derby (which was much less of an event then than it is now) and the American League won the game in a lopsided affair. The only other time the Orioles were host was in 1958(!), as the newly-relocated former St. Louis Browns. Charm City is due for a return.
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth: The Rangers have a new facility in Globe Life Field, so it's likely they'll get a nod soon. But the last time they hosted was, not coincidentally, the last time they had a new park, the unimaginatively named Ballpark in Arlington, in 1995.
  • Boston: It was 1999 when the Red Sox last hosted the game, and they were a backup choice when Miller Park in Milwaukee experienced construction delays. It was the third time Fenway Park was the site of an ASG.

If I had to bet, I'd say the Blue Jays, Rangers, Orioles, and Cubs, in some order or other, will be hosts for 2024, 2025, 2027, and 2028. We'll see. Meanwhile, Seattle gets the glory in ’23, when the Mariners should be a hot ticket generally if expectations prove out for the next few years of Northwest baseball.

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