07/12/11 11:59 PM ET
Focus now shifts to KC for 2012 All-Star Game
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
The All-Stars are going to Kansas City. Kansas City, here they come.
With the 82nd Midsummer Classic in the books, it's time to turn the All-Star attention from cacti to K.C. One year from now, the Royals will be the host team for the annual summer spectacle for the first time since 1973 -- 38 years and a $250 million Kauffman Stadium renovation ago. And after taking in the full spectrum of All-Star events the last few days in Phoenix, Kevin Uhlich, the Royals' vice president of business operations, is excited to receive the handoff from the D-backs.
"Now that this game is history," he said Tuesday, "the focus will kind of shift to Kansas City. And we know the clock is on."
Indeed, it is. And members of the Royals, who dispatched 27 staffers to Chase Field to tour the facility and get a feel for the festivities, are going to be working some long hours to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch in 2012.
"In our meeting [Tuesday] morning," said Mike Swanson, the Royals' vice president of communications and broadcasting, "Tim Brosnan [MLB's executive vice president of business] told us, 'As of tomorrow, consider that you have two 40-hour-a-week jobs.'"
The Royals are up to the challenge because of the rewards that are in store, both in terms of the memories that will be created for their fans and the revenues that will be reaped for their city. The previous three All-Star Games, prior to 2011, earned their host cities anywhere from $63 million to $68 million in revenue, according to data provided to Uhlich, so the All-Star experience has plentiful perks.
Having had their bid to host the event approved last year, the Royals' preparation actually began in earnest long ago. But now that they are officially on the clock, the work will really ramp up, particularly after the All-Star logo is unveiled Aug. 2.
The All-Star Game is, of course, more than a game in this day and age. Beyond the AL-NL showdown itself, the XM All-Star Futures Game and the State Farm Home Run Derby, there's a FanFest, a gala and a parade to prepare for, among other events.
"It's amazing how many things it entails," said Swanson, a Kansas City native. "I've been doing this 33 years, and I was very, very young and green in '73, when the game was played in Kansas City. It was just a baseball game. And in 1960, I was a 6 year old when it was played in Kansas City, and it was literally one of two All-Star Games that year. So to see it blown up into this magical week now is phenomenal. The fact that our market, our community, is going to have an opportunity to host it is off the charts."
The Royals believe they have plenty to show off when the All-Stars and fans from around the nation come to visit next summer. Kauffman Stadium, which opened in '73, has long been one of the game's more charming parks, but the renovations that were unveiled in '09 make it a true jewel of a place to take in a game.
"To be as old of a stadium as it is, they've taken really good care of it," said Cliff Lee, the Phillies' All-Star lefty. "With the renovations they've done, they've improved it. It's a neat place. It's a nice place to play. Especially with the fountains in the background, it's a great environment."
With no knock intended toward the retractable-roof, futuristic confines of Chase Field, Kauffman Stadium will be a setting with a more traditional charm, with the aforementioned center-field fountains at the forefront.
"It shows well," Uhlich said of the park. "We sat here [Monday] night at the Home Run Derby and envisioned that event happening with our fountains and everyone standing in the standing-room areas. We're excited about that."
And the city shows well, too. The Country Club Plaza area, in particular, will be the centerpiece of the city when the Stars stay there.
But if the Royals have their way, then the 83rd All-Star Game will also prove to be a showcase of the contender they're trying to build from within. The strength of the upper levels of the Kansas City farm system is well-documented.
"There is no better place in baseball right now to play a Futures Game than in Kauffman Stadium," Swanson said. "Because that's what we've heard about for the past year-plus, is our future. Hopefully, a lot of those guys are already in the big leagues. If not, hopefully we can stock the rosters of both sides and have an intrasquad game."
As players like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas transition to the Majors, the hope is that the Royals are building a legitimate contender for 2012 and beyond. And what better time to start showing your talent off to a national audience than at one of the sport's most-watched events?
"When teams host a jewel event, it has some spinoff energy to it," Uhlich said. "The Diamondbacks are playing well right now, so that's been nice for them. That's always been our goal. We've had some really strong Drafts, and we're in the process of having some of those first-round picks make it to the big leagues. As they get more seasoned, we expect it to be contagious."
The excitement over the impending All-Star experience has already spread in the Royals' front office, and Uhlich and Swanson both expressed genuine passion for what's coming around the corner. Yes, hosting the All-Star Game is a heck of a lot of work, but it's a heck of a lot of fun, too.
"A lot of things can happen over the next 365 days, but you can visualize meshing everything together all at once, between what we've done organizationally, baseball-wise, and what baseball has done in allowing us the opportunity to have the All-Star Game," Swanson said. "So this could be one heck of a summer for us."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.