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Orioles hope to host 2016 All-Star Game

With the Orioles celebrating the inclusion of five players in this year's All-Star Game, the club also has its eye on hosting the 2016 game.

The Orioles have expressed continual interest in having the midseason showcase at Camden Yards in three years, confirmed club spokesman Greg Bader. That would be 23 years after the ballpark last hosted an All-Star Game.

Bader declined to discuss specifics, but the Orioles believe they have a strong shot for several reasons. The site generally alternates between National League and American League cities, and with Cincinnati hosting in 2015, the AL would likely be up the following year.

With the Minnesota Twins tapped for 2014, the only other AL teams that haven't hosted the game since 1993 are the Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays. It's not clear whether the Blue Jays have expressed interest. Neither the A's nor Rays play in stadiums that baseball officials likely want to showcase.

The Orioles want the game for several reasons. It would add a festive note to the club's 25th year at Camden Yards. And it would also give the Orioles a hook in selling season-ticket packages for 2015 and 2016, with the club tying access to the All-Star Game to longer season plans.

Major League Baseball keeps the revenues from ticket sales, parking and concessions for the actual game, though it donates a portion of revenues from the Homer Run Derby to charities in the host city.

It's not clear when the Orioles will hear a verdict on 2016. The Reds learned they'd be hosting the 2015 game in January. But the decision has come later in other years and could linger until next year's game is near.

The process is shrouded in mystery. Teams don't send an application or make a formal presentation, and there's no public committee assigned to making a choice. Word simply comes down from the commissioner's office.

Having the All-Star Game return to Baltimore would be a boon for the city and would burnish its reputation for hosting big sporting events, said Terry Hasseltine, director of Maryland's office of sports marketing.

"Obviously it's a resume-builder in terms of showing off your city and what you can do with an event of that magnitude," he said. "It gives you the opportunity to showcase the city for fans from all over the country. The All-Star Game is not just one game; it's a multiple-day event that allows visitors to experience your city at its finest."

Hasseltine was not aware of any large events already planned for July 2016 and said city leaders are prepared to work with Major League Baseball should it award the game to Baltimore.

Tom Noonan, CEO and President of Visit Baltimore, said the city has asked a group interested in holding a convention in the city during the week when the 2016 All-Star Game is planned to hold off on making its decision.

“We want the All-Star game,” Noonan said. “It will fill the hotels in the city. It will fill many of the hotels near the airport. It has a huge economic impact for the city.”

The 1993 All-Star Game left Baltimore fans with a number of indelible memories, from Ken Griffey Jr. hitting the warehouse during the Home Run Derby to Randy Johnson whiffing John Kruk after sailing a fastball over his head. The AL won 9-3, but the sellout crowd of 48,147 booed lustily as Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston failed to insert Orioles ace Mike Mussina to finish the game.

The All-Star Game was also held in Baltimore in 1958, at Memorial Stadium.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Chris Korman contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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