When baseball commissioner Bud Selig said recently that Baltimore was a "very, very viable candidate" to host the 2016 All-Star Game at Camden Yards, those who have sought for the Midsummer Classic's return to the city for years received a boost to their hopes.
The Orioles organization isn't commenting publicly on Selig's words, however, because it doesn't want to be viewed as campaigning for the annual event, which has been held in Baltimore twice. The American League won, 9-3, in 1993 at Camden Yards in the second season of the stadium's existence. And the AL also won, 4-3, in 1958 at Memorial Stadium, four years after the club came to town from St. Louis.
Privately, though, the Orioles were encouraged by Selig's characterization of their chances, and the organization would be thrilled to again showcase the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards, which will be in its 25th season in 2016 and remains the model for new ballparks.
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Having the All-Star Game in Baltimore would give the Orioles a chance to tout the team's turnaround from years of dismal results, as well as give an incentive with season-ticket packages for 2015 and 2016 if the club ties access to the event to longer season plans. And it would pump millions into the local economy, while giving Peter G. Angelos one of his biggest moments as Orioles owner on a national stage.
Selig, who is expected to retire in January 2015, said he would award the 2016 and 2017 games before leaving office. The commissioner selects the venue for each All-Star Game.
"I have great feelings for Baltimore," Selig said last week at the Civil Rights Game in Houston. "And I know they have [applied], and I just got done with the '15 All-Star Game, and I know I have to do '16 and '17."
The Orioles may not be willing to talk much about the chance of hosting baseball's All-Star Game at Camden Yards, but others are.
"It brings a visibility to the destination for numerous days leading into the event, during the event, post-event. But it also gives us a significant period, of 18-plus months, to be affiliated with one of the most iconic sporting events in the United States," said Terry Hasseltine, the director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing.
"It will bring tens of thousands of people to the Baltimore and Maryland [areas] for multiple-night stays that they can take advantage of our attractions, the hospitality infrastructure. We'll be able to showcase our world-class transportation system that drops off right at the ballpark," Hasseltine said. "There is a plethora of things this game does for the city of Baltimore. And also it rekindles the baseball spirit back into Baltimore on the national and, in this case, the international stage, because the All-Star Game is global."
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she's "excited at the possibility" and welcomes further discussions about hosting the event in the city.
"It is the ultimate compliment to be considered a viable host site for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game. Baltimore City has demonstrated that we are an ideal location for large-scale sporting events and festivals," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "Not only will the All-Star Game provide an opportunity for Baltimore to continue to be a part of baseball history, but an opportunity to showcase our world-class stadium and boost the local economy."
Impact on business
Anirban Basu, the chairman and chief executive officer of Sage Policy Group, Inc., an economic and policy consulting firm in Baltimore, believes it's hard to put an exact dollar figure on the economic impact of the All-Star Game, but he said the event would have a lasting effect for the city.
"Much of the impact would not be quantifiable," Basu said. "I calculated before that the impact of a sellout at Camden Yards generally in the range of $3 million of net economic impact. Of course, this game will have far greater impact. Most of that impact would be in the form of publicity for Baltimore."
Donald C. Fry, the president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said he believes the biggest benefit for local businesses is the fact that "Baltimore is a very walkable city."
"It certainly adds a lot of out-of-town people coming to watch the game," Fry said. "You'll have a lot of activity at hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. It's one of the summer highlights that people watch, and would certainly bring tremendous exposure for the city of Baltimore."
This year's All-Star Game will be held in Minneapolis, with the 2015 game to be played in Cincinnati.
Basu said the Cincinnati Reds estimated that next year's game will inject around $60 million into the local economy, and he said he believes the All-Star Game would have a bigger impact in Baltimore than some larger cities.
"I do think that for a city like Baltimore, which is not a first-tier city like New York or San Francisco or Miami, that not many people are fully aware of what Baltimore has to offer as a visitor," Basu said. "Therefore, episodes in which the city is in the limelight become much more important because they move Baltimore closer to being first in mind. The All-Star Game helps to do that."