CLEVELAND -- Things have been happening here.And Friday, when Commissioner Rob Manfred named Progressive Field the host site for the 2019 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, was another day to indulge this city's comeback, to celebrate its ascension and assertion on the national stage.And appropriately, the news comes at a
CLEVELAND -- Things have been happening here.
And Friday, when Commissioner Rob Manfred named Progressive Field the host site for the 2019 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, was another day to indulge this city's comeback, to celebrate its ascension and assertion on the national stage.
And appropriately, the news comes at a moment when the local nine is more relevant than it has been in years.
The Indians went to the World Series and had the honor of hosting one of the most epic Game 7s in history. They parlayed that performance into possibly the most surprising free-agent addition in franchise history -- the three-year, $60 million pact with slugger Edwin Encarnacion.
Limited though they may be in revenue streams, the Indians are fully understanding of and immersed in their window to win, much as they were when they moved into this building in the mid-90s.
"We want to diverge from the '90s path in one crucial way," owner Paul Dolan said with a smile, referencing the heartbreak on the World Series stage in 1995 and '97. "Other than that, the idea that we've now won four consecutive years and have had two postseason appearances, including a World Series appearance, and we have an All-Star Game coming in the near future. We're in a very good spot as a baseball organization."
Beyond baseball, the Cavaliers won the NBA title and ended Northeast Ohio's 52-year major sports championship drought. Stipe Miocic came out of the east side suburbs and beat up a bunch of opponents in the UFC. The American Hockey League's Cleveland Monsters won a championship.
And the Browns are No. 1 -- that's in draft pecking order, but it's No. 1 all the same.
That's just the sports stuff. There's other stuff, too.
Cleveland hosted last summer's Republican National Convention, and though there was much controversy and public fretting about the possibility of violent protests leading up to that convention, it turned out to be a logistic and strategic success, with Cleveland earning accolades from attendees who left with rave reviews of the city's vibrant restaurants and new hotels.
The RNC was part of an overall renaissance in the downtown area, best illustrated by the $50 million renovation that turned Public Square, a once rather dreary quadrant of concrete, into a gorgeous gathering green space. "Lakefront development" was once nothing more than a hazy concept around here, but the new Northcoast Harbor next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has changed all that (although why they didn't name the Mexican restaurant next to the Rock Hall "Guac Hall" is beyond me).
Speaking of the Rock Hall, Cleveland -- the supposed rock and roll capital of the world -- went years getting passed over by many a travelin' band but finally landed two summer stadium shows, with Billy Joel set to pack Progressive Field and U2 finally bringing a winner to First Energy Stadium in July.
So a jewel event like the All-Star Game, which is coming here for the first time since 1997, will fit right in.
"There are a lot of things that go into putting together a great All-Star Game bid," Manfred said. "The most important single issue was the great partnership between the Indians and the city of Cleveland and [Cuyahoga] County. We felt this particular bid showed a commitment throughout the community of making a great event."
The All-Star Game is much more than a game. It is a five-day celebration of the sport. Dolan said the 1997 Midsummer Classic generated $40 million of local economic impact. The 2019 event, which will be the 90th All-Star Game and the sixth held in Cleveland overall, is estimated to bring $60 million to $65 million to the economy. Wherever the All-Star Game goes, it leaves a legacy behind. During last year's festivities in San Diego, Major League Baseball contributed more than $1.5 million to youth-focused community projects and baseball fields in the area.
With the American League overdue for hosting duties (by the time the 2019 event comes along, the National League will have hosted five of the previous six Midsummer Classics), the Indians come through with a winning bid at a time when they've drastically changed the look and feel of their home park. The tastes of the public are a moving target, but the Indians have successfully addressed the need for social gathering spaces, improved concessions and an open concourse with a multiyear renovation that is currently in the midst of its third and final phase.
And of course, the Indians have upgraded their roster, as well.
There is an added urgency to the 2017 effort, and the Dolan ownership family invested in Encarnacion with the hope that by the time the 2019 game comes along, there will be a '17 championship banner hanging up in the background.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.