This month, for the first time since 1997, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game returns to Ohio. Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati will host baseball’s best and brightest for the 86th Midsummer Classic. Hosting the All-Star Game presents a platform for the host city/region to promote not only its ballclub but also its local culture to prospective vacationers/residents. Not surprisingly, the bidding for hosting privileges is often fierce and the league determines the venues years in advance.
Cleveland last hosted the All-Star Game in 1997, three years after Progressive (née Jacobs) Field opened. With the home park newly renovated, Indians fans may be wondering when the Forest City will again occupy the All-Star stage. While nothing is official, let’s break out the crystal ball and look ahead.
Historically, Cleveland has stood as a frequent destination for the marquee event. Municipal Stadium played host in 1935, 1954, 1963, and 1981. Progressive Field held the honor in 1997, bringing the city’s total to five. Only Chicago (7) and New York City (9) have hosted the All-Star game more, which makes sense since both cities field multiple teams. The criteria for hosting the All-Star Game are subjective, but the league tends to favor cities that recently built a new park or have not hosted the game for a significant amount of time. The turnover from new park opening to hosting duties is usually pretty quick.
Since 1990, twenty-three teams (!) have unveiled new ballparks. For the purposes of these stats I am disregarding Washington’s RFK Stadium, Colorado’s Mile High Stadium, and Miami’s Sun Life Stadium because none of them hosted the Midsummer Classic and all figured to be temporary homes until a more suitable park was built. On average, the new modern parks hosted the All-Star Game 6.26 years after opening. Below is the list of “new” parks that are still waiting to host their first ASG.
|Tropicana Field||Tampa Bay Rays||1998||TBD|
|Great American Ball Park||Cincinnati Reds||2003||2015|
|Petco Park||San Diego Padres||2004||2016|
|Citizens Bank Park||Philadelphia Phillies||2004||TBD|
|Nationals Park||Washington Nationals||2008||2018|
|Yankee Stadium II||New York Yankees||2009||TBD|
|Marlins Park||Miami Marlins||2012||2017|
|Sun Trust Park||Atlanta Braves||2017||TBD|
So arguably the four cities next in line are Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, New York, and Atlanta (once the Braves’ new park opens in 2017). The completed stadiums have already passed the 6.26 year mark for hosting duties. Therefore, any of them could make a case for holding the ASG soon. What does that mean for Cleveland? Well in these cases history, and aesthetics, should mostly be on our side.
If MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is worth his salt then he will never allow Tropicana Field to host the All-Star Game. The Trop is a painfully depressing building that lacks visual appeal and simply does not feel conducive to baseball. Cavernous and often empty, the building’s acoustics are such that a patron hears the echo of the ball popping in the catcher’s mitt when the sound bounces off the center field wall. Hard pass. While Citizens Bank Park is relatively new, the city of Philadelphia hosted the ASG at old Veterans Stadium in not-too-distant 1996. Yankee Stadium II is the spitting image of the House that Ruth Built which hosted the event in 2008. Coupled with the New York Mets playing host in 2013 it would appear the Big Apple is not at the top of the list. The Atlanta Braves will no doubt lobby to host once their new park is open, but if trends hold then they may not get the nod until 2023 or later. With no other ballparks under construction Major League Baseball will likely look to a second criterion – how long has a club has waited since its last ASG.
Here is the list of the longest active waits to host the All-Star Game (years measured against 2015):
|Los Angeles Dodgers||35|
|Toronto Blue Jays||24|
Technically the Tribe sits eighth in line for hosting duties if time alone decided the matter. There are, however, other factors at play. MLB traditionally alternates between a National League and American League club every other year. However, the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 games will all be held in National League parks. So to balance the ledger, I would not be surprised if a few American League clubs consecutively win the vote in the coming years. I doubt Oakland will be in the mix in their current stadium, however. The Athletics, San Francisco Giants, and MLB remain entangled in a territorial rights quagmire that prevents the A’s from building their dream park in San Jose. The next AL club up would be Toronto.
Since last hosting the All-Star Game in 1991, the Blue Jays have made numerous changes to the Rogers Centre. The team added new seats, updated the in-game experience, and plans to convert the field to grass by 2018. So let’s pencil them in for 2019. I would love to see Cleveland host the All-Star Game in 2020. The season marks the 100th anniversary of the 1920 World Champion club, and the renovations will still have their first coat of paint. However, I think Major League Baseball would look to Baltimore first. So let’s say the Orioles host the 2020 game.
Around this time I would expect MLB to try to resume their AL/NL balance. Assuming Citizens Bank Park hosts in 2021, I think Progressive Field would be a strong candidate for 2022. The renovations to the park are significant enough to allow Cleveland to jump Texas in the on-deck circle of AL clubs. By that time, 25 years would have passed since the 1997 ASG, which is slightly higher than the city’s historical average of hosting the game every 13 seasons. It is also higher than the current league average of 18 years. Bear in mind, however, that when the first All-Star Game was held professional baseball only counted 16 clubs. The league has nearly doubled since then, so historical waits do not necessarily reflect future expectations.
I took the liberty of projecting out to 2025, listed below (all teams in italics are predictions). The Los Angeles Dodgers are the wild card in this equation. Located in a major market with a bucket list ballpark and long wait, I would not be surprised to see them bump a team down a peg.
|2015||Cincinnati Reds||Great American Ball Park||27|
|2016||San Diego Padres||Petco Park||24|
|2017||Miami Marlins||Marlins Park||24|
|2018||Washington Nationals||Nationals Park||13|
|2019||Toronto Blue Jays||Rogers Centre||28|
|2020||Baltimore Orioles||Camden Yards||27|
|2021||Philadelphia Phillies||Citizens Bank Park||25|
|2022||Cleveland Indians||Progressive Field||25|
|2023||Chicago Cubs||Wrigley Field||33|
|2024||New York Yankees||Yankee Stadium II||16|
|2025||Atlanta Braves||Sun Trust Park||25|
In a perfect world the All-Star Game hosting duty would rotate in a tidy 30-year cycle, but so long as ball clubs relocate (they probably will) and owners continue to construct new ballparks (they definitely will), it stands to reason that various clubs will jump others in the queue. So don’t hold it against me if these predictions are off the mark. As far as the Tribe is concerned, I predict the Midsummer Classic returns to Cleveland in 2022. It’s strange to think that a year that sounds like something from a science fiction novel could be only seven years away. Who knows, maybe a few new banners will hang from right field by then.