D-backs to host first All-Star Game

D-backs to host first All-Star Game

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks will host the 2011 All-Star Game, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced in a Saturday afternoon press conference held on top of the home dugout at Chase Field.

This will be the first time that Phoenix has been awarded baseball's Midsummer Classic. The D-backs franchise has lobbied for the game since it was first awarded a franchise in March 1995. The team began play at Chase Field in 1998, which at the time was the game's lone retractable-roof, natural-grass stadium.

"It's always a good day to be a Diamondback, but some days it's a great day to be a Diamondback, and this is one of those days," D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick said. "We're going to make this All-Star Game one to remember. Our community knows how to do large events and we've had stellar events here before, and the All-Star Game is really a culmination of that. We've hosted a World Series, now we have the All-Star Game. It just doesn't get any better on this."

The 2009 All-Star Game will be played in St. Louis while the 2010 game has been awarded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Competition between cities to host the game has become fierce. Phoenix's case for hosting the game was strengthened recently with the expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center, which is adjacent to the ballpark, as well as a new light-rail transit system that includes a stop right outside the ballpark on Jefferson Street.

While complimenting the D-backs for the comprehensive bid they put together, Selig said what may have put the D-backs over the top was the club's, well, persistence.

"I guess, I'm going to say it and don't take it the wrong way, but you guys were pests after a while," Selig said while looking at Kendrick and team president and CEO Derrick Hall. "We now have a culmination of this, and I can now get back to work and not have to listen to Ken and Derrick complaining about this."

"The Commissioner was right," Hall said following the press conference. "We just kept hammering him on it. Whenever I would talk to him I would bring it up. I would say, 'Before we get to such and such, I want to remind you about the All-Star Game.'"

Selig may not be done hearing about Phoenix just yet, judging by the comments of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.

"Mr. Commissioner, has a city ever hosted All-Star Games in back-to-back years?" Gordon asked with a smile as Selig shook his head.

There is prestige for a franchise in hosting an All-Star Game, but there is also a financial incentive as well, as a team's season-ticket sales tend to go up in anticipation of the game, with fans purchasing them to secure seats for the Midsummer Classic.

Already, the D-backs have announced that All-Star Summer ticket packages, which include tickets to the 2011 All-Star Game and all the events that surround it, will be available via a priority list to D-backs' full-season ticket holders to purchase in 2011. The club emphasized that full-season ticket holders with higher priority numbers will be given better seat locations, meaning fans that purchase season tickets now will have better access to seats than if they purchased season tickets in 2010 or 2011.

In addition, the influx of visitors is a financial boon for the host city, which is something that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer noted in her remarks, saying that the game would bring "hundreds of millions of dollars into the state's economy."

While the All-Star Game itself is the centerpiece, the game also comes with three days of festivities, which include a Fan Fest, a Home Run Derby, a Futures Game, which features the game's top prospects, and a celebrity softball game.

It is hard to put an exact dollar figure on the game's economic impact, but based on previous games, the team said the game and events surrounding it will bring nearly $60 million in direct economic impact to the Phoenix area, compared to the $35 million economic impact from the 2009 NBA All-Star Game held at nearby U.S. Airways Arena.

In addition, the club estimates an indirect economic impact to the state of Arizona of around $150 million.

The All-Star Game has taken on greater significance in recent years. Since 2003, Major League Baseball has awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the game.

Selig said following the press conference that having home-field advantage in the series as an incentive has been a success, and he saw no reason to make any rule changes for the 2009 game after last year's 15-inning affair at Yankee Stadium.

The American League has dominated the game of late, with the National League's last win coming in 1996 in a game that was played in Philadelphia. The two teams tied in 2002 in Milwaukee.

The City of Phoenix has hosted the NBA's All-Star Game on three occasions: 1975, 1995 and again this past February.

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