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Angels making final All-Star preparations

Angels making final All-Star preparations

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ANAHEIM -- With the 81st All-Star Game just a week away, the Angels are excited about hosting the event for the first time in 21 years.

It's been a long journey for the Angels since being awarded the 2010 Midsummer Classic more than two years ago, and now the organization finds it hard to believe it's so close to coming to fruition on next Tuesday at Angel Stadium.

"The enthusiasm and excitement is building because we're finally getting the feeling it's going to happen -- we're a week away," Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl said. "Now the butterflies and excitement are really starting."

But with the excitement and butterflies come hard work and preparation, as the Angels organization is in the final stages of gearing up for the game and all the events that surround an All-Star Game.

With the Angels out of town playing the White Sox in Chicago, the grounds crew and maintenance workers have been busy making final preparations at Angel Stadium, which will also play host to the XM All-Star Futures Game and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, both on Sunday, and Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby.

"The team's out of town so now we can get to put all the plans in action," Kuhl said.

The Angels can't wait to show off a new and improved Angel Stadium, which has seen nearly $2 million in improvements in the past year, including the restoration of the "Big A" message board, flat-screen televisions around the ballpark, new carpeting in the visitor's clubhouse and fresh paint all around.

But it's not just at the stadium where the All-Star Game festivities will take place, as it all kicks off Friday with the MLB All-Star FanFest, a five-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center that serves as the launch for All-Star Week.

FanFest, for which Hall of Famer Rod Carew and All-Star Torii Hunter are serving as spokesmen, is the world's largest interactive baseball fan event, featuring more than 40 baseball attractions and exhibits.

"The city of Anaheim and the convention center has done a great job of putting that together," Kuhl said. "It's a huge event."

And as Kuhl noted, the Angels and MLB couldn't have done it without the help of the city of Anaheim, which worked in tandem with the organization on all of the All-Star Week events, including FanFest and Sunday's All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run, which will be attended by former Angels greats Bobby Grich and Carew.

"I can't tell you how cooperative the city has been," Kuhl said. "It's been a great partnership as far as I'm concerned."

The All-Star Week events are expected to pump $85 million into the local economy, according to the city of Anaheim and the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau. And $5 million will go to community projects in Anaheim and around the country, according to MLB.

But for now, the city is working on notifying residents and local business owners about traffic alerts and street closures, such as those on major streets around Angel Stadium, including parts of Katella Avenue, Gene Autry Way and Orangewood Avenue. They will be closed Sunday morning from 6:30-9:30 a.m. for the Fun Run, which begins and ends at Angel Stadium.

"What we're doing from a city perspective is more involved with the facilities, streets and the overall experience and messaging of our residents, business owners and guests," said Ruth Ruiz, a public information specialist for the city of Anaheim.

Anaheim is familiar with hosting such large events because of Disneyland, which had nearly 16 million visitors in 2009. As a result, there are plenty of hotel rooms in the area, including the 1,600-room Anaheim Hilton and the 1,000-room Anaheim Marriott, which will serve as co-headquarter hotels for the All-Star Game and have taken nearly 2,200 reservations.

"We're fully prepared to handle visitors," Ruiz said. "We're used to summer crowds and holiday crowds at Disneyland, and the Anaheim Convention Center is the largest on the West Coast. So we're definitely accustomed to large crowds."

And speaking of Disneyland, it will also help kick off the All-Star Game on Tuesday with the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevy.

The event, which begins at 11:30 a.m. PT, is scheduled to feature all of the All-Stars as well as the American and National League managers, who will make their way down an approximately 6,000-square-yard red carpet stretching three-quarters of a mile from the corner of South Harbor Boulevard at Convention Way to Disney Way before continuing down Main Street U.S.A. inside Disneyland.

"The red-carpet parade is so fantastic," Kuhl said. "For the city to shut down streets and to put that together with the security in place to do that is a phenomenal job."

And then after the Red Carpet Show, it'll soon be time for the biggest event of them all, the All-Star Game at 5 p.m. PT/8 ET.

It will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International and ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

"The way I look at it is the best players in the world get to play in our stadium," Kuhl said. "As you can tell, we're very excited."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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