07/11/11 5:30 PM ET
Royals getting ready for 2012 All-Star Game
By Adam Holt / MLB.com
Uhlich, the Royals' vice president of business operations, is one of the point men for the organization, which is readying to host the 2012 All-Star Game, even as this year's event is underway in Phoenix.
Anyone turned off by the thought of watching a Home Run Derby under the roof at Chase Field, take heart -- the fountains of Kauffman Stadium are just a year away.
"We just think it's going to be a good venue for it," Uhlich said. "We sit and think about the Home Run Derby, and people hitting balls into the fountains. I think we could have a lot of fun, and a lot of unique things that you don't normally see in the All-Star Game."
Much of the All-Star Game planning actually falls onto the shoulders of Major League Baseball itself, so for now, the Royals organization plays a waiting game. Once this year's game is over, MLB will turn its attention to next year -- and Uhlich said the planning process will really get going after August 2, when the 2012 All-Star Game logo is unveiled.
That's not to say the Royals haven't been active already. Members of the Royals organization have been assigned duties, such as coordinating the budget for the event, transportation, hotels and rounding up the 2,000 volunteer workers who will help out during the event.
"So over the last year, some of the basic things have been accomplished," Uhlich said. "We booked Bartle Hall for the FanFest -- we had to work with Skills USA to try and relocate the largest convention in Kansas City by a couple of days so we could get it in. Negotiated with the hotels to try and secure about 3,000 rooms locally, and rates."
In a way, planning began five years ago. Once a 0.375-percent sales tax hike in Jackson County was approved in 2006, renovations began at Kauffman Stadium, including the addition of a new high-definition video board -- the largest in MLB. The renovations were completed in time for Opening Day 2009.
MLB had told Kansas City if the renovations went through, they could expect an All-Star Game soon. The formal bid was submitted in March 2010, with Commissioner Bud Selig formally awarding the game to the Royals on June 16, 2010.
One of the biggest preparations for next year's game is actually happening now. A group of around 45 representatives from both the Royals and city are in Phoenix to observe how the D-backs and Phoenix are handling this year's game. The group includes Uhlich, Royals vice president of ballpark operations and development Bob Rice, Jackson County executive Mike Sanders, Kansas City mayor Sly James and Katie Steele Danner, director of the Missouri tourism department. Additionally, convention-center representatives and people who handle emergency services are down to try to learn what they can from their counterparts in Arizona.
AL STARTING NINE
"They've reached out to their peers to try and at least set up a meeting or two to find out," Uhlich said. "I know our people have made contact with the Diamondbacks' people that are heading up these different areas of the Diamondbacks' operation. It's kind of tough because they're going to be right in the heat of the battle, and you really don't want to get in their way. But you want to learn as much as you can."
Royals representatives also got to attend some planning meetings in Phoenix, as the D-backs and MLB finalized their plans for this year's game.
The Royals have also reached out to the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals, who hosted the 2010 and 2009 games, respectively.
"I think that each city is different, and each city has its own little nuances. For instance, you'll find [Arizona] didn't do a 5K run, and they didn't do an outdoor charity concert because of the heat," Uhlich said. "I think as it comes back to Kansas City, while it can be warm and a little steamy here in July, it's not like a Phoenix heat. I think that those two types of events are back on the table -- at least in August, when we start discussing it with them."
Uhlich said the Royals will also need to work out what to do with all the media who will attend and broadcast the game, as some "alterations" will need to be made, although no large-scale projects will be necessary.
Hosting the All-Star Game requires a lot of work by both the host club and city, but there are certainly benefits. Economically, hosting the All-Star game is, as the cliché goes, a home run.
"This is coming from cities, so I think it's a solid number to use. Over the last three games that they've had, the lowest that I've heard is $63 million -- and the highest I heard is $68 million in revenue coming to the cities," Uhlich said. "That's a big number."
It doesn't hurt that Kansas City is no stranger to hosting large sporting events. The Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium was the site of two NFL playoff games in the last decade, and hosted five Big 12 football championship games. Kansas City's Sprint Center has hosted the Big 12 men's basketball tournament since 2008, and the city has often hosted opening weekend games for the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Still, Uhlich thinks the 2012 All-Star Game will trump them all.
"I don't think there's ever been an event here that will showcase Kansas City as much as this All-Star experience will," he said. "We're really excited, we're excited for people to see our park, to get a taste of what Kansas City and the Midwest is all about."
Adam Holt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.