FanFest ushers in All-Star Week with fanfare

Ribbon-cutting ceremony signals beginning of action in San Diego

FanFest ushers in All-Star Week with fanfare

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State University marching band and mascots from various Major League teams welcomed hundreds of fans pouring into the San Diego Convention Center on Friday morning for the grand opening of the MLB All-Star FanFest, signaling that Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard is nearly here.

All-Star Game spokesmen Trevor Hoffman and Dave Winfield, Padres CEO Mike Dee and MLB COO Tony Petitti participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin All-Star Week in front of the gathering of eager fans.

"We always talk about this being a week of activity, not just the [All-Star] Game and the Home Run Derby," Dee said. "FanFest -- what a perfect description of what this is … I guarantee you there's something for everyone here."

Historical exhibits, baseball and softball clinics, a supersized MLB Shop, hands-on activities and autograph sessions account for more than 40 attractions that make up the 500,000 square feet of FanFest.

"This is fantastic. The All-Star Game is the cherry on top, but all week, there's stuff going on," Winfield said. "Some 100,000 people will come through [FanFest]. It's just the focal point of baseball. It's going to be an incredible week."

Fans clad in jerseys and apparel from all Major League teams jockeyed for position in autograph lines and waited to take part in some of the interactive attractions, like batting cages and fielding stations with tips from former Major Leaguers.

"Every year, things around the All-Star Game seem to get bigger, brighter, better," Winfield said. "This convention center is going to be packed to the gills with people. It's early in the morning, but you see the action, and it's festive."

Former Padres greats Hoffman, Winfield, Steve Garvey and Randy Jones were just a few of the former Major Leaguers in attendance Friday to sign autographs, run clinics and greet fans.

Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith, Andre Dawson, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda and Rollie Fingers are some of the other baseball icons expected to make appearances at the five-day event. Softball legends Jennie Finch and Lisa Fernandez will also be in attendance to run clinics.

Hoffman played in seven All-Star Games during his career. But he's embracing the ability to participate in events like the opening of FanFest, something he wasn't able to do as a player.

"Being able to see the build up, starting with the opening of FanFest and the personal exhibits to San Diego and some of the greats, it's really neat to see," he said.

The MLB All-Star FanFest will run through Tuesday at the San Diego Convention Center. Tickets can be bought at allstargame.com/fanfest.

All-Star Game coverage begins Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.