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All-Star Week statue tradition hits Kansas City

A decade of strategic statue positioning around All-Star cities has culminated with the placement of 1,000-pound objets d'art in Kansas City, and part of that summertime tradition is the ability to purchase the replica versions at the Shop.

As part of the celebration of All-Star Week in the home of the Royals, Major League Baseball has teamed up with licensee Forever Collectibles so that the All-Star Crown can take its place alongside recent icons, such as the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mickey Mouse in Anaheim and saguaro cacti in Phoenix. These are being commemorated in baseball-themed statue form.

One statue was placed Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium, inside Gate D. Others were being placed starting Wednesday in the following locations: Kansas City Convention Center, Bartle Hall; Country Club Plaza, Mermaid Courtyard at Nichols Road and Broadway; Power and Light District, KC Live Block, 133 Walnut Street; and the Marriott Downtown at 200 West 12th Street.

"These commemorative All-Star statues have become a big part of the All-Star tradition in just a few short years, to the point where people are now anticipating what they'll look like each year and collecting them all," said Howard Smith, MLB senior vice president of licensing. "It is another great way for the fans to enjoy the excitement of All-Star Week."

The statues are uniquely decorated with bold graphics celebrating the 2012 All-Star Game, the Royals and each of the 30 MLB clubs. One of the statues was designed and painted by renowned pop artist Charles Fazzino. Specific locations and further details will be announced at a later date.

In addition to the Shop, the statues will be available next week at team shops and local retailers in Kansas City. Limited-edition pins of the statues also will be sold at MLB All-Star FanFest.

The tradition began in 2003, when the White Sox were All-Star hosts and giant bobbleheads were placed all around the Windy City. A year later, Houston displayed designer cowboys boots at various establishments. Pittsburgh went with artwork in local businesses. The movement hit a new level in 2008, when 42 Statues of Liberty -- the number honoring the great Jackie Robinson -- were positioned around the Big Apple, including one beside the real version.

Just imagine the possibilities for next summer in New York again, with the Mets hosting. Big apples or Empire State Buildings? Last year, 700-pound saguaro cacti adorned the Greater Phoenix area, and signs cautioned fans not to climb them.

Robert Brinton, president of the Mesa, Ariz., Visitors and Convention Bureau, said last year he enjoyed having local residents and tourists walk by the cacti. "It is a great point of pride for everyone," Brinton said.

And now those points of pride are going to be on crowns around the Royals' town.

The 83rd All-Star Game, to be played July 10, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies will begin at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game., MLB Network and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.