07/20/2004 4:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh to host '06 All-Star Game
Midsummer Classic was last in Steel City in 1994
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
|Commissioner Bud Selig participated in Tuesday's announcement. (Dave Arrigo/Pittsburgh Pirates)
PITTSBURGH -- It's official. The Steel City will be the host of the 2006 All-Star Game.
With the city's skyline serving as a backdrop, Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig awarded the game to Pittsburgh during a press conference Tuesday at PNC Park.
"Today, I have the distinct pleasure to announce that the 2006 All-Star baseball game has been awarded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the great city of Pittsburgh," said Selig. "The competition for All-Star Games is much more intense than it ever has been. We have a large number of cities bidding. There are going to be some disappointed people.
"Given PNC Park and given everything else, I thought it was the right thing to do. Now that it's over, I'm glad that we did."
Selig continually cited PNC Park as a primary factor in his decision to award the game to Pittsburgh just 12 years after the city hosted the 1994 contest.
"This ballpark is spectacular. It certainly played a critical role," said Selig. "I wouldn't be standing here today if PNC Park didn't exist.
"I felt during the [construction] of PNC Park that we really also had a commitment to this community. If they built it and it worked out well we ought to bring an All-Star game back."
Tuesday's announcement was the culmination of collaborative effort between the Pirates and local city and county officials to bring the game back to Pittsburgh.
In April, Pirates CEO and general managing partner Kevin McClatchy submitted a proposal to Major League Baseball that outlined the city's ability to handle the influx of fans, baseball officials and media that would flock to the region for the All-Star festivities.
"We definitely are excited about having the All-Star Game," said McClatchy. "I am excited for the Pirates, but I'm probably more excited as somebody who lives in Pittsburgh for this city to get the All-Star Game.
"Getting this game here is going to help the city and allow the rest of the country to see a new city by 2006."
Selig commended McClatchy for his diligence in lobbying for the Midsummer Classic to return to Pittsburgh.
"Kevin, in particular, was about as tenacious as one could get," said Selig. "It's paid off today with this great announcement. They put together a great package, as did the city of Pittsburgh.
As many as five other cities, most notably San Francisco and Phoenix, were also in the running to host the event, and for good reason. According to Selig, the city of Houston generated an additional $80 million while hosting the 2004 All-Star Game earlier this month.
McClatchy was reluctant to speculate on how much revenue the 2006 game would generate for the Pirates and Pittsburgh. However, he did recognize that the festivities should help to increase season ticket sales, which have fallen off considerably since PNC Park opened in 2001.
"If you look at historic trends, most places have increased season tickets as you go toward the All-Star Game. We did see that here in '94," said McClatchy. "It would be our expectations that season tickets would go up."
With a seating capacity of 37,898, PNC Park is smaller than every Major League ballpark except Fenway Park in Boston. Demand for tickets to the 2006 Midsummer Classic will be great. The Pirates saw an increase in ticket sales of 40 percent prior to hosting the 1994 All-Star Game at Three Rivers Stadium after offering full and partial season ticket holders the first opportunity to buy tickets for the festivities. A similar ticketing plan is expected for the 2006 game.
For his part, McClatchy is hopeful that Pirates fans will see many of their own current crop of young players on the field for the 2006 All-Star Game.
"I'm going to love to see a lot of the young players who we have out there right now be on the field to play in this All-Star Game," McClatchy said.
The 2006 All-Star Game will be the fifth to be held in Pittsburgh. The city was also the site of the 1944 and 1959 games at Forbes Field and the 1974 and 1994 affairs at Three Rivers Stadium.
Those cities that failed in their bid to host the 2006 Midsummer Classic won't likely be upset for long. Selig told reporters that he plans to announce the host cities for the 2007-2009 All-Star Games later this summer.
"What I'd like to do during the course of this summer is at least award the games for 2007, 2008 and 2009 so that they have enough time to work on it," said Selig. "We have a lot of cities that have new ballparks and have a really intense desire to have an All- Star Game. I'll just have to try to be as fair as possible."
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.