The last time the All-Star Game was held at Wrigley Field was all the way back in 1990 (the year before I was born!). [Brett: *suddenly feels an ache in his knees and back*]
Using my advanced mathematical skillz, I’ve predicted that, with 30 teams in the league each hosting the mid-summer classic once per year, the Cubs’ “number” should come up again sometime around 2020. But it doesn’t quite work like that.
The Commissioner doesn’t just set up a batting order and kick back in the dugout as each team takes their turn hosting the All-Star Game. Instead, it’s more of a subjectively-based decision, upon which the league can include any number of qualifications (discussed here previously).
Fortunatly, if you recall back to last July, the Commissioner suggested that the Cubs are, in fact, in the running for 2020:
“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.”
It’s worth pointing out that the 2020 season is the first for which Wrigley Field’s lengthy and significant renovation project is scheduled to be entirely completed. It also comes just one year after the All-Star Game will have been hosted in an American League ballpark (Cleveland in 2019). So … the stars are aligning, right?
Well, not so fast.
Wrigley Field has not be confirmed as the location of the 2020 All-Star Game yet, and Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, while hopeful, isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch.
“The mayor and the city have been really supportive. They obviously would love to see an All-Star Game come to Chicago. The problem with the All-Star Game, to be honest, is it’s a reward. The commissioner hands out the All-Star Games typically to cities that have done something extraordinary for their club. So if you look at the sequence here, new ballparks that have come online with substantial public funding get the All-Star Game. It’s a little like what Roger Goodell does with the Super Bowl. The reason there’s a Super Bowl in Minnesota is this year is because they just built a new stadium there. So for the commissioner, there’s some political issues.”
Expanding on that, Kenney says that the primary issue so far has been the Cubs (and my!) “far less helpful” alderman, Tom Tunney. “So we do have a tougher putt,” said Kenney via CBS Chicago, “for both the mayor and for the Cubs to make the case to the commissioner that we should get the All-Star Game despite having a local alderman that really is not supportive of the team.”
Although, I’ve understood the criticism of Tunney in the past (for example, that his interests are more aligned with the bar owners and rooftops than with the “neighbors” in the community), it’s harder for me to understand why he wouldn’t want an All-Star Game in Chicago. Surely, if it were still about bar owners, they’d be on board with the huge influx of people from across the country, right? So if it’s not that, what is it?
Maybe we’ll get some clarity in the future, maybe we won’t. But for now, it sounds like the Cubs’ President of Business Ops is pushing for the All-Star Game in 2020 (a year that makes a ton of sense for the Cubs), but recognizes that there are some roadblocks in the way.