Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the Twins and Target Field will host the 2014 All-Star Game.
By JOAN NIESENFS North
MINNEAPOLIS — When all is said and done, it will have been a 29-year wait for the Twins, but finally the end is near. The 2014 All-Star Game officially belongs to Target Field.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was in Minneapolis on Wednesday to make the announcement, which had become baseball's worst-kept secret. Surrounded by former Twins stars and the faces of the organization, Selig made it official. He said he's been sure for quite some time that Target Field was the right place for the 2014 game, which will take place on July 15, 2014.
"Given what's happened here, the ballpark and everything else, it was really pretty easy," Selig said of the decision. "I don't like to do this too soon, but I knew a long time ago where the 2014 All-Star Game would be. And it's coming here because it's the right thing to do. This is the right place to be."
Selig spoke highly of the Twins organization throughout the afternoon, a view that's colored by his close relationship with the late Twins owner Carl Pohlad. Selig emphasized the Twins' long-standing reputation as a franchise that does things the right way, which colored his decision. Awarding this game is the result of a long campaign by the Twins and the Pohlad family, which dates back to 2008, long before the season's 2010 opening.
It's taken years of effort by the Twins to land the event, but really, that hardly comes as a surprise. In the past decade the All-Star Game has transitioned from a burden to a coveted event, Selig said, and he now has teams lining up to host the event. There's always a reason – a new ballpark, an anniversary, renovations, history – and having the most compelling reason to host the Midsummer Classic can be a tough task. Fortunately for the Twins, Target Field was up to it.
Despite the Twins' struggles in 2012, the game marks a massive turning point for the team, which was considered as a candidate for contraction in 2001. A new stadium was at the heart of that effort, and in 2006, that dream was made reality. Target Field opened in 2010, and since then, hosting an All-Star Game has seemed like a logical next step.
Now, it'll be just two years until Target Field gets its first major appearance in the national spotlight, and the stadium is ready for its cameo. The 39,504-capacity ballpark has been lauded as one of the best in the league, and it's not hard to picture a major event like the All-Star Game unfolding there.
"As I just looked, I said to Paul Molitor, ‘Target field is just spectacular,' " Selig said. "Every time I'm here, I just can't tell you how impressive this is. So this will be a great showplace for the 2014 All-Star Game."
The announcement was riddled with emotion, from Selig's memories of Pohlad to Rod Carew's recollections of his 18 All-Star Games, but the enthusiasm went beyond nostalgia to financial reality. The All-Star Game, with its six days of constant events and activity, will be a huge financial boon to the area.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said that Target Field has already generated $75 million in economic development, and that pales in comparison to what the All-Star Game will likely contribute. Selig put the estimate at between $75 and $100 million over the course of the event, in addition to another approximately $5 million that will be invested in local charities.
With those figures, it's easy to see that this is about more than a baseball team and its fans. It's about a city and its efforts paying off, and the Twins must in turn work to make sure this All-Star Game gives back to the area.
Twins president Dave St. Peter said that he's not yet sure how tickets will be distributed for the event, and deciding that is up to the league. However, he imagines that first priority will be given to full season ticket holders over lesser season ticket holders and the general public. Admission to the game comes at a premium price, though the events surrounding the game are usually more accessible, and it will take a concerted effort on the part of the team to involve as many of its fans as possible.
"How do we make sure that this is a game and a whole lot more?" Ryback asked hypothetically. "It really needs to be a place where the whole community feels welcome, where there are lots and lots of folks who will come in here and spend lots and lots of money."
Citi Field will be home to the 2013 All-Star Game, continuing the tradition of alternating between the ballparks of the American League and the National League.
The Twin Cities last hosted the MLB All-Star Game in 1985 at the Metrodome, which opened in 1982 as the home of both the Twins and the NFL's Vikings. The All-Star Game also was held at Metropolitan Stadium in 1965, the only other time it's taken place in the Twin Cities. The Twins' current 27-year wait for an All-Star Game is the second-longest in the American League; the Rays have never hosted a game.
The most recent All-Star Game for any sport in the Twin Cities was held at the Xcel Energy Center in 2004, and the Timberwolves hosted the NBA All-Star Game at the Target Center in 1994.