Sports Business Lunch: What the All-Star Game would mean to Baltimore

Childs Walker took a look at the mysterious process used to pick the location of the Major League All-Star Game for Tuesday's paper.

It's clear why the Orioles -- and those working in tourism and sports marketing in the city -- covet the chance to host the game in 2016. The last time it was here, in 1993, the game delivered an economic impact of $31.4 million, according to city estimates. In 2013 dollars, that's $50 million.


(For comparison's sake, the Grand Prix of Baltimore had an economic impact of about $47 million two years ago and $42 million in 2012.)

What's not calculated in those figures is the marketing boost for the city, which was certainly felt in 1993 when Oriole Park at Camden Yards, in its second year, sparkled for baseball fans in other cities still stuck watching games from dull, multipurpose concrete stadiums.


Baltimore traces its ambition as a sporting event destination -- and reputation for changing the way the country viewed baseball stadiums -- to the 1993 All-Star Game, according to Thom Loverro's book "Home of The Game."

"The All-Star Game was a chance to show off the city to the world, and we made the most of it," former Gov. William Donald Schaefer is quoted as saying. "This was the first time a city turned it into an entire week of events. When you have an event, make it a big one."

Players from the National League who hadn't seen the park raved about it, calling it the future of baseball and saying the opportunity to play in such a park would motivate them.

The B&O Warehouse became a target for sluggers in the Home Run Derby, with Ken Griffey Jr. hitting a shot that hit a piece of plexiglass 8 feet off the ground. If you happened to be 11 years old at the time, you thought that was probably one of the greatest things ever. (Or at least I did.)

Of course, these days, hosting the All-Star Game also means having another way to entice fans into buying season tickets. The Mets tried this. But because they're the Mets, it did not go well; attendance is down 7.7 percent.

The Evening Sun

The Evening Sun


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Major League Baseball produces the All-Star Game and keeps proceeds from tickets and concessions and parking. But it allows the home venue to control ticket sales for about two-thirds of the stadium. So clubs dangle access to those seats as a carrot to get fans to buy expensive season packages.

While Visit Baltimore CEO Tom Noonan and Maryland Sports executive director Terry Hasseltine are working to bring the event back to Baltimore, the 1993 All-Star Game elicited some of the same complaints that local merchants have about the Grand Prix: that the crowds spend money at the event and don't actually spread it to the Baltimore economy.

Also from The Sun:


I took a look at the saga of the "Crush Davis" t-shirt. A local company going by the name of "Hamsterdam" -- you know, from "The Wire" -- began selling the shirts in April. But then a Facebook page made to look like it is run by Orioles star Chris Davis also began selling the same shirt. The fellas from Hamsterdam were nonplussed, and their friends complained on the Davis page, which stopped selling the shirts.

It's a compelling look at how commerce works today. The Hamsterdam fellas create shirts that speak to fans the way efforts from larger corporations can't; they simply get what it means to be a Baltimore fan, and they have the artistic skill needed to turn that feeling into shirts people want to buy. But because the company is so small, it has little recourse -- beyond creating a kerfuffle -- when a design is stolen.


Here's the most thorough profile of one-time Maryland jockey Rosie Napravnik I've ever seen. It traces each step of her journey to becoming one of the top riders in the country -- she's currently fifth in earnings and fourth in wins -- including a stop working for steeplechase trainer Jack Fisher, who is married to the daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Orb owner Stuart Janney's sister, and trains on farmland once owned by the elder Stuart Janney, who raced the great filly Ruffian. If you followed that sentence, you probably also follow horses. But even if you don't, this story is a good read.