Tonight the New York Mets will host their first All-Star Game since 1964 in Shea Stadium. That game has a rather special Phillies moment of course, which leaves me wondering if Domonic Brown or Cliff Lee might play a part in another bankable moment in franchise history. It's hard for me to believe the Mets have only hosted the All Star Game once before this season, while the Yankees have hosted the game twice since then. Heck, the Phillies have hosted the game twice since 1964 as well and I'm here asking when they might get a third.
It's a question that has no answer of course, but I would venture to say Philadelphia's opportunity may not be all that far away if the Phillies have any interest in serving as the host for the midsummer classic.
It seems as though baseball likes to showcase the top venues in the game, which makes sense. If you are going to showcase your sport's top stars, why not do it in one of the many state-of-the-art venues? Baltimore hosted the 1993 All-Star Game shortly after Camden Yards was opened to the public and the Texas Rangers hosted the game in their new park in 1995, a year after opening. Since 2000, just three all-star games have been played in stadiums constructed before 1991 (Royals, Yankees, Angels).
There are now eight active stadiums that have not hosted a ballpark, including Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The others are:
- Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay)
- Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati, hosting in 2015)
- PETCO Park (San Diego)
- Nationals Park (Washington D.C.)
- (New) Yankee Stadium (New York)
- Target Field (Minnesota, hosting in 2014)
- Marlins Park (Miami)
Might baseball take this in to consideration the next time it comes to determining who gets to host future all-star games? Quite possibly. So when might be the earliest the Phillies could realistically host the all-star game?
Let's keep in mind that baseball seems to want to prefer alternating between American League and National League parks from year to year. This does not always hold true, but the track record is pretty fair. The National League hosted two years in a row in 2006 and 2007 but has switched between leagues annually dating back to 1963. The Minnesota Twins (AL) will host the all-star game next season and the Cincinnati Reds host the game in 2015. That probably means an American League team will be preferred to host the 2016 game, and there is a very attractive candidate to host the game that season down in Baltimore.
The Baltimore Orioles will be celebrating 25 years in Camden Yards in 2016, and the franchise is reported to be in pursuit of being selected to serve as host that season. If Baltimore does not host the all-star game in 2016, I would be surprised. So fast forward to 2017 and let's just assume the league will select a National League city. Where would Philadelphia fall in to the mix?
Let's throw out any National League team that has hosted the game since the all-star game was last in Philadelphia (1996). That removes the following from the picture: Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds (2015 host). That leaves the following teams:
- Phillies, Nationals, Marlins, Cubs, Dodgers, Padres
As mentioned above, the Phillies, Nationals, Marlins and Padres all play in stadiums yet to host the all-star game, so that could play a role in the conversation by those who make the decision. The Dodgers have not hosted the game since 1980 and the Cubs have not hosted the game since 1990. If the Cubs follow through on stadium renovations, Wrigley Field could be a tough candidate to go up against after 26 years away from the historic venue. However, that would be two NL teams in the same division serving as a host in the NL rotation. That is not typically a disqualifier, but it might something worth reviewing.
If the Nationals were to put their hat in the race then baseball might welcome a return to the nation's capital in Nationals Park, although that would be just one season after playing in Baltimore. That likely would be a deterrent for any 2017 game in D.C.
Miami spent a lot of city money to build that monstrosity they call a baseball stadium and the game has not been played in Florida since... well, ever. Perhaps there is a reason for that though. Why reward an abysmal baseball club with the all-star game? Keep in mind that baseball keeps the majority of the revenue attached to the all-star game. With the current ownership in place, why go out of your way when you won't get a nice slice of the pie? In other words, until there is a change in ownership in Miami we can probably keep them out of this conversation.
Which brings us back to Philadelphia. Like the Nationals, the big drawback for any potential Phillies all-star game in 2017 would be the idea that Baltimore, located just down I-95, would have hosted the previous season. That makes an all-star game in California, be it in Dodger Stadium or in San Diego, more likely in my eyes
If all of that plays out as I see it, that would make 2019 the year to look forward to if you want to see a home run derby and all-star game in Citizens Bank Park.