Last weekend, Rob Manfred, the new commissioner of MLB, announced that the 2017 All-Star Game will be played in Marlins Park. Alone, this news is not that groundbreaking; someone needs to host the Midsummer Classic. However, given that the 2016 game is being played in San Diego and this year’s in Cincinnati, Miami will make it three straight years of a National League team playing host.
The All-Star game has typically been hosted by each league in alternating years. For example, the NL’s Mets hosted in 2013, and the AL’s Twins hosted last year. This tradition was only broken twice, first in 1951 so the Tigers could honor the 250th anniversary of Detroit’s founding, and then in 2008 so the old Yankee Stadium could see all of the game’s best for one final time in its last year.
If two straight years is an abnormality, three consecutive games hosted by the same league is outrageous, especially so soon after Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig said the league wanted to keep the alternating pattern. The reason for the break is simply that there are too many new NL parks that have not yet hosted the All-Star festivities.
Great American Ballpark, the home of the Reds, opened its gates in 2003 and will be this year’s venue.
The Padres’ Petco Park and Marlins Park, opened in 2004 and 2012 respectively, have been awarded upcoming games for their unique, beautiful ball fields.
At this point, it is worth speculating what the league does for future games. Nationals Park, opened in 2008, and the Phillies’ Citizen Bank Park, constructed in 2004, are the other NL parks that have yet to host All-Star Games. The Braves will also be moving into a new stadium for the 2017 season. For the AL, Tropicana Field has been home to the Rays since their inaugural 1998 season, but the stadium is just too ugly and flawed to warrant national media attention that the All-Star Game brings.
The only other park that hasn’t hosted is the new Yankee Stadium, opened in 2009. The problem here is that the Yankees hosted recently, in the aforementioned 2008 game before the new stadium was completed. The Mets also hosted in 2013 and the league doesn’t like the summer affair to be in the same geographic region within a few years. The MLB set precedent that it would have it in New York five years apart.
The Orioles are making bids for future games, but the league will not reward it to them until they drop the lawsuit against the Nationals regarding television coverage. The Nationals will likely host first anyway because there hasn’t been an All-Star Game in the nation’s capital since 1969 and the Expos/Nationals franchise has only hosted one, back in 1982.
The Phillies, who have not hosted since 1996, are pushing to have the 2026 All-Star game in Philadelphia for the 250th birthday of the country. Likewise, they hosted in 1976 to commemorate America’s bicentennial. By the time 2026 rolls around, the Phillies will be in their 23rd season in their home.
No matter where the All-Star Game is played, the baseball action remains a constant. With so many options for host stadiums, the Mid-Summer Classic should endure for seasons to come.