PITTSBURGH -- Representatives from Major League Baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the City of Pittsburgh assembled Tuesday at PNC Park to begin planning the events of the 2006 All-Star Week.
The meetings, which will continue Wednesday, are the first step in a 10-month cooperation between the city, team and league to showcase Pittsburgh and PNC Park during the events and activities surrounding the July 11, 2006 Midsummer Classic.
"We're anxious to get started," said Patty Paytas, Pirates' vice-president of communications and the ballclub's All-Star coordinator. "A lot of work has already been done, but now the heavy lifting begins. We're excited to welcome Major League Baseball to the best ballpark in America and look forward to working with them and the entire Pittsburgh community to make the 2006 All-Star Game the best ever."
Approximately 20 MLB officials were on hand Tuesday for the first round of meetings. Marla Miller, senior vice president for special events for Major League Baseball, held a general information session for the staff, followed by breakout sessions on such issues as security, appropriate use of space and ticketing.
"We now have our All-Star manual and timetables. Everybody has their own binder," said Paytas. "It's really impressive. It's a very organized process."
The 2006 game marks the fifth time that the City of Pittsburgh has hosted the Midsummer Classic. Forbes Field was site of the 1944 and 1959 All-Star Games and Three Rivers Stadium hosted the 1974 and 1994 All-Star Games.
"Major League Baseball is thrilled to once again be in the great city of Pittsburgh and to begin planning and preparations for the 2006 Midsummer Classic," said Mille. "Each year, All-Star Week brings a high level of excitement to the middle of summer and we are sure that this year's events will give the fans in Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania the ultimate baseball experience."
Although the All-Star Game itself remains the marquee event of All-Star Week, the ancillary events have taken on added prominence since the Pirates last played host in 1994.
Major League Baseball All-Star Week festivities get underway with John Hancock All-Star FanFest, July 7-11 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center; Taco Bell All-Star Sunday -- which includes the XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game -- on July 9 at PNC Park; and All-Star Workout Day -- including the All-Star Home Run Derby -- on Monday, July 10 at PNC Park.
"It's a very, very large event," said Paytas. "The more you get into the planning, the more you realize that. But you also realize how fortunate we are to have this because it really is a premiere event."
The XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game will be televised live on ESPN or ESPN 2 on Sunday, while on Monday the All-Star Home Run Derby will air live on ESPN, immediately followed by the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game. The 77th MLB All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage of the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB.com Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the Midsummer Classic on the Internet.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.