For the first time in more than two decades the Angels and the city of Anaheim will host an All-Star Game as Commissioner Bud Selig announced Wednesday that Angel Stadium will be the site for the Midsummer Classic in 2010.
It will be the fourth time the game will be played in the Los Angeles area since the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, and the first time it's to be played in Southern California since San Diego hosted in 1992. The 2010 game is scheduled to be played on July 13.
As decisions go, Selig said this was a no-brainer.
"I use a myriad of factors (in determining a site) but 2010, quite frankly, was pretty easy because the Angels have been a great success," Selig said. "They've drawn 3 million plus for five straight years. They've won three division titles. Their franchise has really become a model, no question about it."
The Angels, who expanded into the American League in 1961, have hosted the game twice, in 1967 and 1989. It will be a first for the club, though, under the ownership of Arte Moreno, who purchased the team from Disney five years ago.
For Moreno, the decision helps to serve as personal confirmation that he's set the franchise on a positive course: one that included the somewhat controversial name change from Anaheim Angels to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
"It means a lot for us because it means we get to showcase our fans and our stadium. What we call our baseball experience," Moreno said. "We like our fans wearing our colors and we promote that a lot and we like to see the stadium as a sea of red."
The city and the team have been locked in a legal battle for three years over the name change that now is at the state appellate level, but both sides put a positive spin on Wednesday's announcement.
"There was a great deal of cooperation between the city, the team and the league in making this announcement here today," said Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle. "I thank those who worked so diligently to make that happen. This celebration in Anaheim is a much-deserved award for our fans."
The decision had been in the works since last summer, when Selig said that the 2010 game and its three days of festivities certainly would go to an AL team. After Pittsburgh and San Francisco of the National League hosted back-to-back games in 2006 and 2007, Selig said he was determined to go back to the traditional rotation of one year at an AL site and the next at an NL site.
The New York Yankees are hosting this year's game on July 15 during what is the final season at the current Yankee Stadium. The 2009 game has already been awarded to the Cardinals, who will be in their fourth season in Busch Stadium III.
The Angels applied for the 2008 game, but Selig opted for the sentimental value of playing that one in the Bronx, where the new Yankee Stadium will open across the street from the old one in time for the 2009 season.
Aside from the '08 game in New York and 1999 in Boston's Fenway Park, Selig has used the All-Star Game to highlight many of the newer stadiums. Since the early 1990s, all the new ones in the AL have hosted a game, beginning with what was then called Toronto's Skydome in 1991. Subsequently, All-Star Games have been played in Baltimore, Cleveland, Texas, Seattle, Chicago and Detroit.
"The competition for All-Star Games are more intense than I ever remember. In fact it was true even when I was starting in the 90s, you sort of called somebody and said gee, you want an All-Star Game and they said fine and you'd give them one," Selig said. "Now, I have a long list of cities and franchises and believe me, I've got some struggles ahead of me in trying to pick."
Selig would not say which cities, if any, have the inside track to future games but he will have some additional AL options:
A new ballpark in Minneapolis is slated to open for the 2010 season; the A's have a new yard on the drawing board in Fremont, Calif., that could be ready within five years; and the Rays are proposing a new one on the waterfront in St. Petersburg. Selig already has promised to consider awarding the 2012 game to Kansas City once renovations to Kauffman Stadium are complete.
There are plenty of choices in the NL, with new ballparks already open in Phoenix, San Diego, Philadelphia and Cincinnati that haven't played host to the game. Plus, Washington, D.C.'s new yard opened this year, Citi Field will replace New York's Shea Stadium in 2009 and a new one in Miami is slated for a 2011 inaugural.
Newer NL parks in Denver, Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and San Francisco have already staged the midsummer game.
Aside from the spotlight the game provides, the Midsummer Classic has also been a tremendous financial windfall for the host cities.
"The impact is always different and the area impact is different," Selig said. "I know that in Detroit and Houston they estimated the economic impact of an All-Star Game to $70-75 million. Fan Fest alone will draw people from all areas. It's amazing."
The Angels have hosted the All-Star Game twice in different configurations of what was then called Anaheim Stadium, which was originally opened in 1966 for baseball only, was expanded in 1981 to 65,000 seats for pro football, and then was reconstituted into a 45,000-seat baseball-only facility in 1998.
The NL won the 1967 game on July 11 of that year in front of 46,309, 2-1, when Tony Perez homered off Catfish Hunter in the top of the 15th inning. Tom Seaver closed it in the bottom of the inning, thus ending the longest game in All-Star history. Perez was named the Most Valuable Player.
Twenty-two years later, on July 11, 1989, in front of 64,036, Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs hit back-to-back homers to open the bottom of the first inning off NL starter Rick Reuschel as the AL prevailed, 5-3. Jackson, then a two-sport player who was a star running back for the Los Angeles Raiders, was the MVP.
Moreno and the Angels have been working on the All-Star bid for the past four years that finally bore fruit Wednesday.
"We sort of pinch ourselves," Moreno said. "We get to showcase Southern California. We get to showcase our stadium our fans, where we live and work."