Earlier today, we dissected various comments from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB Players Union Chief Tony Clark. Together, they addressed juiced baseballs, non-juiced players, expansion, pace-of-play, international free agency and a whole lot more. You should really check that post out if you haven’t already.
But among their many league-wide thoughts came one very specific Cubs note: bringing the All-Star Game to Wrigley Field.
“The city of Chicago and Wrigley Field, the renovated Wrigley Field in particular would be a great site for an All-Star Game,” Manfred said at last night’s event, later adding that “there will be an All-Star Game in Wrigley Field in the relatively near future.”
As you may or may not know, the last All-Star game at Wrigley Field was all the way back in 1990. Unfortunately, the next two All-Star Games are already spoken for (Washington D.C. in 2018 and Cleveland in 2019), but 2020 is still up for grabs.
So are the Cubs actually in the running?
After confirming that there are actually multiple clubs interested in bringing the 2020 All-Star game to their respective ballparks, Manfred added that “the Cubs are certainly in the mix ….” Although that’s not entirely reassuring, there are some reasons for optimism. Namely, the city of Chicago seems to grade out well according to Manfred’s own unofficial rubric, at least by way of inaction.
Let’s take a look:
- Have they (the city) built a new stadium for their club? Well, no, Chicago has not built (or even really subsidized) a new stadium for the Cubs, but the (privately-funded) renovations are hard to ignore. The Cubs may not have gotten a new stadium, but a $500+ million renovation is something you want to show off, regardless of who’s footing the bill. The Cubs ownership has taken the long-term viability of Wrigley Field into their own hands and revitalized the surrounding neighborhood in the process. It would seem unfair to ding the Cubs for getting things done in a city where that’s notoriously hard to do.
- Have they (the city) done particular things that are helpful to the club? Well, actually, yes. Days after the Cubs won their first world series in over a century, the City of Chicago hosted an absolutely ENORMOUS parade and rally down the streets of the city and into Grant Park. Although that’s somewhat expected, the City pulled it together quickly and used resources to ensure that it went off smoothy (which it did). For now, we’ll ignore the countless other ways the city has made life a nightmare for the Cubs in recent years.
- The availability of key venues, convention centers, and what not. At first, you might think the Cubs/Chicago whiff on this aspect, and I wouldn’t blame you. If there’s one thing Wrigleyville does not have is hotels and places to stay. However, Hotel Zachary is scheduled to open in early 2018 just across the street from Wrigley Field. It’s hardly a convention center capable of holding thousands of incoming fans and players, but it’s certainly a start. And the whole of downtown is just an L ride away.
MLB/Manfred know how much of a revenue boon hosting the All-Star Game can be, so he cites these sort of qualifiers as incentive for cities to start supporting their teams more seriously. Hopefully, Chicago shows that it’s worthy of hosting the event and, ultimately, the Cubs get it.
And even if you’re wishy-washy on Chicago’s ability to meet these standards, let me offer you one final glimmer of hope: there are 30 teams in baseball and 2020 represents exactly 30 years since the Cubs last hosted the event. Altogether, it’s becoming hard to make a case against Wrigley Field. Now, we just have to wait and see if it’s actually going to happen.