08/14/2003 2:16 PM ET
Tigers to host All-Star Game
Midsummer Classic will come to Motor City in 2005
DETROIT -- Baseball's Midsummer Classic is finally coming back to the Motor City.
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig officially awarded the 2005 All-Star Game to the Tigers and Comerica Park Thursday afternoon, ending more than a year of speculation and completing a five-year stretch of national sporting events in the Motor City.
"From what anybody in Detroit remembers about the All Star Game and the experience, this will be a tremendous event," said the Commissioner at a news conference at Comerica Park.
"I'm glad for the Tigers, I'm glad for the Ilitch family. It's well deserved. This is one of the great baseball cities in America, and it's a privilege to bring it back here."
Detroit has not hosted the All-Star Game since 1971, when Reggie Jackson's mammoth home run off a light standard above the Tiger Stadium roof made it a regular part of the ESPN Classic rotation. Selig was at that game and cited those memories, as he did of Ted Williams' home run in the 1941 event.
Every Major League team except the Mets, Cardinals and the expansion Diamondbacks, Devil Rays and Marlins have hosted an All-Star Game since then. Eight teams have hosted two in that span, and Houston will join that club next year when the event comes to Minute Maid Park. That absence was one of the factors Selig cited in making the choice.
"Detroit was really a natural," Selig said. "It's been a long time. It's really been too long. But once we got the details worked out, it was easy."
Detroit rounds out the cycle of new ballparks built in American League cities over the past 10 years to host the event.
The All-Star Game announcement adds to a five-year run of events that rivals regular marquee cities like Atlanta and New Orleans. Golf's Ryder Cup comes next year to nearby Oakland Hills Country Club, which will also host the 2008 PGA Championship. Detroit will host the Super Bowl again in February 2006 at Ford Field and NCAA men's basketball regionals in 2008, leading up to the NCAA men's basketball Final Four in 2009.
"We're delivering a 1-2 punch at the right time," Tigers owner Michael Ilitch said of the All-Star Game and Super Bowl, which will take place seven months and a city street apart.
MLB officials made a site visit to Detroit in March as part of the team's application. They also held follow-up
conversations with club officials in June. Tigers senior vice president of business affairs Jim Stapleton said
those talks dealt with available space for visitors as well as surrounding events such as John Hancock All-Star
FanFest and the All-Star Gala.
"We showed them how Detroit throws a good party," Stapleton said, "and I think they were impressed. Once we worked
out the details, it was easy."
Expectations for a choice started around last year's All Star Game in Milwaukee and Tigers officials have been
quietly confident about their chances for the past several months. The decision was finalized prior to this week's
owner's meetings in Boston.
"There was never a doubt in my mind," Selig said, "that Detroit was going to be the home of the 2005 All-Star Game.
"This was the one that was so obvious, I finally decided 'We're going to do this.'"
Selig mentioned more than once that he felt Detroit was "a great baseball town" and that this was something
baseball could do to bring it back. Hall of Fame player Al Kaline, who participated in the 1971 All-Star Game, was
thrilled that the Midsummer Classic was returning.
"It was an honor and a thrill just to be able to play in an All-Star Game in front of your home fans," Kaline said.
"It's hard to describe what it's like to play a game like that in front of your home people."
Stapleton and Iltich Holdings president Denise Ilitch will serve as the primary co-chairpersons on the Tigers
All-Star Game effort. Their next major step will be a meeting in New York with MLB officials next month when the
Tigers play the Yankees. Stapleton has already visited several past All-Star hosts during Tigers road trips this
season to gain an understanding of how they did it.
"You hope to take the best of what they've done and make it a little better," Stapleton said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.