11/20/09 1:29 AM EST
KC a contender for '12 All-Star Game
Selig hints that the new 'K' may host Midsummer Classic
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
That was the indication after Major League Baseball's Owners' Meetings on Thursday in Chicago, where Commissioner Bud Selig hinted that the newly renovated Kauffman Stadium would get the game.
"I haven't made a final decision, but we did promise [the Royals] an All-Star Game at some point," Selig said. "They did a magnificent job there. But I'm not going to say more than I've said."
He did indicate he's close to an announcement which, presumably, could come at the Winter Meetings, which begin Dec. 7 in Indianapolis. The Royals are declining comment because the announcement rests with the Commissioner.
An All-Star Game has been eagerly anticipated in Kansas City for more than 3 1/2 years. It was on March 22, 2006, at the Surprise, Ariz., training complex that Selig announced an All-Star Game would be held in KC between 2010 and 2014.
There was a catch, though. The awarding of the game was contingent upon the passage of a tax referendum on April 4, 2006, to finance an extensive renovation of Kauffman Stadium.
Royals owner David Glass said at a news conference that Selig "has a special place in his heart for Kansas City." It helped, too, that Glass and Selig were close working associates in the framework of baseball hierarchy.
The referendum, which put into motion the renovation of Kauffman Stadium and football's adjacent Arrowhead Stadium, was approved by Jackson County, Mo., voters and it was All-Star Game on -- the only question was when.
Two years of work at a cost of $250 million at Kauffman Stadium were virtually complete before Opening Day 2009, and the new look received rave reviews. With the signature Fountain Spectacular retained, the "New K" had new suites, new concourses, new concessions, new restrooms and a whole new "Outfield Experience" that spanned the stadium and included the Royals Hall of Fame.
Meantime, word had spread for several months that Major League Baseball was pointing toward 2012 for the All-Star Game in Kansas City. The 2010 game was awarded to Anaheim and the 2011 game went to Arizona. The 2013 game seems to be headed to the New York Mets' Citi Field.
Selig wants to keep alternating the game between the two leagues, a practice that was temporarily set aside in 2006 and 2007 when there were back-to-back games in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Because the All-Star Game winner now decides home-field advantage in the World Series, he wants to keep things fair with the home team and use or non-use of the designated hitter, alternating each year.
Two years ago, during a visit to KC, Selig estimated an All-Star Game could mean "$70 or $80 million worth of business" to the host city.
In recent years, the All-Star Game has grown into a huge three-day event that includes the Futures Game, the Home Run Derby and then the Midsummer Classic.
There was a brief flurry on Nov. 6 when a report came that the Boston Red Sox were seeking the 2012 Midsummer Classic as part of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. That request reportedly was turned aside.
The only All-Star Game hosted by the Royals came on July 24, 1973, the first season that Kauffman Stadium (then called Royals Stadium) was open. That was the 40th game and the National League won, 7-1, after the AL jumped ahead, 1-0, in the second inning on Reggie Jackson's double and an RBI single by KC's Amos Otis.
The game is remembered for a mammoth home run belted by Cincinnati's Johnny Bench in the fourth inning over the left-field concourse. That drive, against Bill Singer, was recorded at 480 feet -- still the longest blast in stadium history.
Otis, John Mayberry and Cookie Rojas were the Royals' players in the game. There were 15 future Hall of Famers on hand, including Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson, Rod Carew and Nolan Ryan.
One of two 1960 All-Star Games also was held in Kansas City, at old Municipal Stadium, with the NL winning, 5-3. The Kansas City A's were the host team.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.