Kansas City, Mo. Bereft of baseball pageantry for decades, Kansas City finally will get to see the game’s best and brightest up close.
The 2012 All-Star Game is coming to Kauffman Stadium.
Commissioner Bud Selig made the formal announcement Wednesday at the newly renovated ballpark, following through on a promise he made when Jackson County voters approved a sales tax increase in 2006 to finance work at Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, that totaled more than $500 million.
Selig was a close friend of Ewing Kauffman, the late founder of the Royals and recalled attending the All-Star game with him in 1973, the year the facility opened as Royals Stadium.
“Ewing and I became quite close,” he said. “I’ve always had a great affinity for Kansas City. It’s a great baseball market, very much like Milwaukee, with a wonderful baseball tradition.”
Bringing the All-Star game to Kansas City will focus the baseball world on a stadium and team that hasn’t received much national attention in a generation.
The Royals haven’t made the postseason since winning the World Series in 1985, a streak of 24 seasons and counting only bested by the Washington Nationals and Montreal Expos franchise, who have gone four years longer.
Since former Wal-Mart CEO David Glass took control of the team following Kauffman’s death in 1993, the franchise has struggled on the field and at the gate. The Royals and Chiefs had to wage an expensive campaign to persuade voters to add to their tax burden. The promise of an All-Star game was held out as an enticement.
But Selig said the economic impact of an All-Star game will approach $70 million for KC.
“I’ve seen what All-Star games can do for franchises, and this is really going to help David Glass and the whole Royals organization,” he said.
There was competition, especially from Boston, where Fenway Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012.
“In the ’90s, you had to beg somebody to take the game. Now I’ve got a list of teams and every time I award one there are some people, and I know who they are, who are mad,” Selig said. “That’s all right. They’ll get over it. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about those things any more.”
He said he agreed that the Red Sox, who hosted the 1999 game, had “very interesting reasons.”
“It was tough. But the Royals made a terrific presentation and Mr. Glass is always persuasive with me anyway. With all the renovation and everything, this is a franchise we need to be successful and hopefully this will help in the process and I know it will.”