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Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2004

Pittsburgh, San Francisco want 2006 All-Star Game

April 22, 2004

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— Pittsburgh and San Francisco, both of which have opened new ballparks since 2000, have emerged as the front-runners to play host to the 2006 All-Star game.

Baseball in recent years has rotated its annual midsummer game among the numerous cities which have opened new parks since the early 1990s, and both Pittsburgh and San Francisco are making strong pitches for the 2006 game.

St. Louis would also like to stage its first All-Star game since 1966 when the Cardinals open their new ballpark in 2006.

Major league baseball, however, probably would prefer St. Louis to be the All-Star site in a future season, when the Cardinals could use the game to increase season ticket sales.

Pittsburgh is pitching to host the game for the second time in 12 years, which would be one the quickest turnarounds since the 1961 and 1962 expansions substantially increased the number of major league cities. The 1994 game was held at Three Rivers Stadium.

San Francisco last had an All-Star game in 1984 at Candlestick Park. With Barry Bonds counting down toward Hank Aaron's career home run record, the Giants could be a popular choice to host in 2006.

While the All-Star game likely would have little effect on the Giants' already healthy ticket sales, the Pirates' attendance has dropped off each season since PNC Park opened in 2001 and All-Star tickets would be a welcomed marketing tool to boost season ticket sales.

Since visiting Boston's Fenway Park in 1999, the All-Star game has been touring new or relatively new parks: Atlanta (2000), Seattle (2001), Milwaukee (2002) and U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (2003). Houston (July 13) and Detroit (2005) are the next two All-Star sites.

MLB is not required to alternate AL and NL cities as All-Star sites, but traditionally stays with the every-other-year rotation, which is why NL teams are competing for the 2006 game.

Cincinnati (1988), Philadelphia (1996) and San Diego (1992) are the other NL franchises that have recently opened new parks and probably will find themselves in the All-Star rotation in the not distant future. However, San Diego has already had the game twice in the last 26 years, in 1978 and 1992 -- a 14-year turnaround.

Despite being two of baseball's premier franchises, the Yankees (1977) and Dodgers (1980) have each had long All-Star gaps. Kansas City hasn't had the game since 1972, and Detroit will end a 34-year wait next year.

Florida, Arizona and Tampa Bay never have been All-Star sites.

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