'23 MLB All-Star Game to be held in Seattle

September 17th, 2021

SEATTLE -- The Midsummer Classic is returning to the Emerald City.

On Thursday, the Mariners, along with Major League Baseball, announced that T-Mobile Park will host the 2023 All-Star Game, the first at the venue since ’01, when Seattle fielded eight players at MLB’s premier event to welcome a national audience with a game that is still vividly remembered as one of the very best of its previous generation.

The announcement -- from the skyline level of the iconic Space Needle, with Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and many others on hand -- was the culmination of a multiyear process by the Mariners, who have annually modified their ballpark in the two decades since they last hosted the event to keep it widely regarded as one of the Majors’ best.

To that end, Mariners chairman and managing general partner John Stanton also shared that the club is committing $50 million for enhancements to the ballpark and neighboring areas in the SoDo district, where the venue is located. Stanton couldn’t elaborate the particulars just yet, but those upgrades are in the works.

“We're working on a number of projects in order to enhance the building and also the neighborhood,” Stanton said. “We've recently committed to a geographic project in a building adjacent to us. And we now know that we'll have the All-Star Game in 2023, and that's kind of a deadline for us to substantially improve those facilities to create more opportunities for fans to enjoy the game and the events that come before and after the game.”

The Mariners had been in pursuit of hosting the event for the better part of the past three years, but that process became more accelerated in recent months. The club first put in a bid in ‘18 and had upgraded it annually since, but they had been eyeing the ‘24-25 range, and possibly as late as ’27, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Mariners’ first season.

That was until Commissioner Rob Manfred told Stanton that ’23 was on the table in June.

“As things evolved, and whatever else, we said, ‘Hey, we're still interested,’” said Mariners team historian Randy Adamack, a key contributor to the bid. “It was sort of a hurry up and wait process. When you submit the bid, you don't get an answer the next day. It takes some time. So we just went through the process. We went back and forth, and they came to us earlier this year and said, ‘Can you make ‘23 work?’ And we went back to put all the pieces to the puzzle back together again, and we were able to make it work. It really came together in the last couple of months.”

Manfred said Thursday that Seattle was not considered for the 2021 Midsummer Classic when it relocated from Atlanta’s Truist Park due to restrictive voting laws enacted in Georgia this year to Denver’s Coors Field because the league had already earmarked ’23 for the Pacific Northwest, known for its passionate sports fans, vibrant culinary scene, progressive culture and all-around epic summers.

“The compact layout of the city is perfect for an event like this,” Manfred said. “It's easy for the fans who come from out of town to get around. … We love cities where we can envision a compact series of events for our fans and the logistics are easy. It makes it more enjoyable for the people that are coming here. So there was a lot of great things, and the history of the ‘01 game, it’s been a long time since 2001. It was really time to get back here.”

Beyond the game itself, All-Star Week features the All-Star Futures Game, the Celebrity Softball Game, the Home Run Derby and, as of 2021, the MLB Draft, though it has not been determined if the Draft will remain part of the All-Star Week when it’s held in Seattle. But other logistical plans are already loosely mapped out and underway.

PLAY BALL Park, an interactive baseball theme park that serves as a de facto fan fest, will be held at Lumen Field, home to the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the MLS’ Seattle Sounders, one block north of T-Mobile Park, according to Adamack, who has been in his role with the Mariners since 1978, and as such, was a key figure to the ’79 and 2001 Midsummer Classics in Seattle.

There’s also a legacy program that will leave behind a number of community projects intended to live in Seattle for years after the game.

“We are excited to make this a uniquely Seattle event, highlighting the amazing people, food and culture and baseball community that we all have here,” new Mariners president of business operations Catie Griggs said.

One big takeaway from Thursday was that Seattle itself could look much different by the time it welcomes baseball’s biggest stage in two years -- particularly with the $50 million in upgrades to the ballpark and SoDo.

Another big takeaway was merely the palpable nostalgia to the 1979 event at the Kingdome, and more vividly, the 2001 Midsummer Classic held at T-Mobile Park just two years after it had opened as Safeco Field.

In tandem, those takeaways were a reminder to how much Seattle itself, as a city, has also soared since the last time baseball’s biggest event was here. It's grown as fast as any major metropolis in the 2010s, thanks to a huge boom in the tech, startup and life sciences industries, seemingly making it a much larger and more diverse host than it was when Ichiro Suzuki was hitting leadoff as a rookie in front of home fans in the ’01 event.

With the Mariners’ on-field product on the rise, with the team’s commitment to make T-Mobile Park even more of a gem and with Seattle having grown into one of the premier tourist destinations on the West Coast, the 2023 All-Star Game figures to be memorable one.