From the first day he sat down behind his executive desk in Great American Ball Park in 2005, one of the many missions of Cincinnati Reds president/CEO Bob Castellini was to snag the All-Star Game for his team, his fans and his city.
The All-Star Game has not been in Cincinnati since 1988, at old Riverfront Stadium, and it never has been played at Great American Ball Park, which opened its gates for the first time in 2003.
Castellini kept after it, kept the bug in the ears of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, asking when the game would land in Cincinnati.
When Castellini and Selig were together, surrounded by media, a media representative from Cincinnati would ask Selig, “When will the All-Star Game be in Cincinnati again?” Castellini would smile and tell Selig, “I didn’t plant that question,” but he smiled broadly when the commissioner would say, “Soon, we hope. Very soon.”
Well, now Castellini can say of one of his many missions, “Mission accomplished.”
The All-Star Game is coming to Cincinnati in 2015. Selig was in Cincinnati Wednesday afternoon to make the announcement Reds fans have been waiting to hear:
“It give me great pleasure, on behalf of Major League Baseball, to award the 2015 All-Star Game to the Cincinnati Reds,” Selig said in front of a media conference.
Selig emphasized that Cincinnati to those who were around for the 1988 game in Riverfront won’t recognize the 2015 event.
“It used to be a one-day event,” he said. “The game would be played on one day and then the players left town. Now it is a five-day event that will benefit charities all over the city,” referring to events like the ever-popular Home Run Derby the the Futures Game involving minor-league stars.
Selig said the All-Star Game should pump $80 million to $100 million into the Cincinnati economy.
The game was held in Kansas City’s refurbished Kauffman Stadium last year and the city said it generated $60 million for the city.
Even though there are 30 major-league teams and the All-Star Game is on a rotating basis, fans wondered what took so long for it to return to Cincinnati, although it will be only 27 years since the 1988 stop.
In recent times, the game has gone to cities with new stadiums or refurbished stadiums, but Great American opened in 2003 and it took 12 years to get the game. Newer stadiums like Citi Field in New York opened in 2009 and is the site of this year’s game. Minnesota’s Target Field, opened in 2010, hosts the 2014 game.
But all that is forgotten now. Castellini’s mission is accomplished and the city is thrilled that the event belongs to Cincinnati in 2015.
It will be the fifth time for the All-Star Game to be played in Cincinnati. Old Crosley Field hosted it twice and Riverfront Stadium hosted it twice.
In fact, the 1970 game was the first baseball game played in Riverfront when it opened in July of that year and became famous as the All-Star Game that was won by the National League when Cincinnati native Pete Rose crashed into Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 12th inning.
Selig cited Cincinnati’s historic significance in baseball, including the game’s first professional team in 1869, through the Frank Robinson years of the 1950s and 1960s, the Big Red Machine Era, the Barry Larkin-Ken Griffey Jr. era and the current team, “Of Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto.”
“The honor has been earned by the fans, our corporate sponsors and civic partners who have loyally supported this team,” Castellini said. “Baseball truly could not have selected a more grateful or worthy community with whom to partner. We appreciate baseball’s confidence in entrusting us with one of baseball’s most treasured traditions.”