04/10/09 5:31 PM ET
D-backs to host 2011 All-Star Game
Official announcement expected to come Saturday
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
An announcement is expected on Saturday, although Major League Baseball has not confirmed that Phoenix will indeed be the site of baseball's jewel event in 2011.
This would be the first time that Phoenix has been awarded baseball's Midsummer Classic. The D-backs franchise has lobbied for the game since it was first awarded a franchise in March 1995. The team began play at Chase Field in 1998, which at the time was the game's lone retractable-roof, natural-grass stadium.
The club's case for hosting the game was strengthened recently with the expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center, which is adjacent to the ballpark as well as a new light-rail transit system that includes a stop right outside the ballpark on Jefferson Street.
The 2009 All-Star Game will be played in St. Louis while the 2010 game has been awarded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
While the All-Star Game itself is the centerpiece, the game also comes with three days of festivities, which include a FanFest, a Home Run Derby, a Future's Game, which features the game's top prospects, and a celebrity softball game.
Pittsburgh and San Francisco, both National League clubs, hosted back-to-back games in 2006 and 2007 and afterward Commissioner Bud Selig said he wanted to go back to the tradition of alternating between the two leagues each year.
The All-Star Game has taken on greater significance in recent years. Since 2003, Major League Baseball has awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the game.
The American League has dominated the game of late with the National League's last win coming in 1996 in a game that was played in Philadelphia. The two teams tied in 2002 in Milwaukee.
Yankee Stadium hosted last year's All-Star Game, a tribute to its final year of existence and the game was played in venerable Fenway park in 1999, but otherwise the game has generally served as a showcase for the game's newer ballparks.
There is prestige for a franchise in hosting an All-Star Game, but there is also a financial incentive as well as a team's season-ticket sales tend to go up in anticipation of the game with fans purchasing them to secure seats for the Midsummer Classic.
In addition, the influx of visitors is a financial boon for the host city.
"The competition for All-Star Games are more intense than I ever remember," Selig said last year in announcing that Anaheim would host the 2010 game. "In fact it was true even when I was starting in the 90s, you sort of called somebody and said gee, you want an All-Star Game and they said fine and you'd give them one. Now, I have a long list of cities and franchises and believe me, I've got some struggles ahead of me in trying to pick."
The City of Phoenix has hosted the NBA's All-Star Game on two occasions, 1995 and again this past February.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.