Mets to host 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field
Midsummer Classic to be played in Queens for first time since '64
NEW YORK -- From the Polo Grounds to old Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field and Shea Stadium, New York has hosted more MLB All-Star Games than any other city.
Next year at Citi Field, the Big Apple will do it again.
With Commissioner Bud Selig, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, team owner Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon in attendance, MLB announced Wednesday that the Mets will host the 2013 All-Star Game on July 16, 2013, becoming the city's ninth Midsummer Classic, but the first in Queens since 1964.
"The Mets have been great; this is really a very, very happy day," Selig said. "I know for the citizens of this great city and state, they will enjoy this immensely."
New York last hosted the game in 2008 at old Yankee Stadium. This summer's game is scheduled for July 10 in Kansas City.
Now, one of the National League's newest jewels will have its chance. Citi Field opened in 2009 after more than a decade of planning and construction; its completion coincided with the demolition of Shea Stadium, which the Mets called home for 45 seasons.
The Mets and MLB will reveal at a later date further details on the events surrounding next year's All-Star Game, but the All-Star FanFest is expected to be held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, as it was in 2008.
"Really, this is a great event for New York; it distinguishes why New York is different and we look forward to the next All-Star Game," Wilpon said. "I think it's going to be very exciting because it encompasses, as Bud said, five days and that's really exciting for the people of New York."
Bloomberg estimated that the game will have a $191.5 million impact on New York City's economy, drawing 176,000 visitors to the city and generating a television audience in excess of 30 million viewers.
"This is really one of the things that you dream for," Wilpon said. "It's one of the major events in Major League Baseball, other than the World Series. Personally, it's very meaningful."
The Mets built Citi Field in the shadow of Shea, on the same plot of land between 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, and Wilpon acknowledged that he is eager to "show off the ballpark" during All-Star week. The stadium can hold up to 41,922 fans at maximum capacity, including space in 54 luxury boxes, six clubs and restaurants, encompassing 1.2 million total square feet. It stands within steps of the Citi Field-Willets Point stop on the New York City subway's elevated No. 7 line.
In building Citi Field, the Mets drew features from several former and current big league parks -- most notably from Ebbets Field, which Wilpon frequented as a youngster. Most fans enter the stadium through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which honors the life and times of Robinson and was built to resemble the entrance way at the Dodgers' old ballpark in Brooklyn.
The Mets draw much of their history and culture from Robinson's Dodgers and the New York Giants, the two NL franchises they effectively replaced in New York.
But the Mets have also generated plenty of their own nostalgia in 50-plus seasons, from their World Series titles in 1969 and '86 to the parade of All-Stars who have worn their distinctive blue-and-orange uniforms. Shea Stadium played a significant role in all that, and continues to influence the team to this day. The Mets recently established a Hall of Fame and Museum at Citi Field, and carried portions of their old ballpark -- including the lighted skyline above their old scoreboard and their signature home run apple -- to their new one.
Now, they are carrying over an All-Star tradition. The Mets hosted their first All-Star Game in 1964, Shea's inaugural season, drawing more than 50,000 fans to Queens. That game remains one of three in All-Star history that ended in walk-off fashion, with the Phillies' Johnny Callison homering to win it for the NL. Some of baseball's all-time greats, including Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and future Mets players Willie Mays and Joe Torre, appeared in that game. Torre, a nine-time All-Star and former manager of the Mets and Yankees, was in attendance Wednesday.
The All-Star Game has not seen a walk-off homer since the one hit by Callison.
"Fred, if you can conjure up a little Mets magic and give us a thriller next July at the All-Star Game at Citi Field, I'd be shocked if you can't do that," Bloomberg told Wilpon. "I'd be shocked if you can't deliver that."
The 1964 Midsummer Classic was the sixth in New York City history, following two stops at the Polo Grounds, one at Ebbets Field and two at Yankee Stadium. The game has come back to the city twice since 1964, both times at Yankee Stadium.
Traditionally, it has a major economic impact on its host city. This year's events are estimated to draw about $60 million into Kansas City, and the 2008 events in New York generated $148.4 million, according to MLB.
In addition, the 2011 All-Star Game, played in Phoenix, drew 34.9 million television viewers and ranked as FOX's most-watched prime-time telecast of the summer. The game consistently ranks as the highest-rated All-Star event in sports by a large margin.
For those and other reasons, Selig noted that there is always "intense competition" from teams to land All-Star Games.
"The All-Star Game to me is always something special," said Torre, now MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations. "You're the only game in town. It's a chance to show off."