Marlins to host 2017 All-Star Game
MIAMI -- The stars are set to shine on Miami. Major League Baseball on Friday announced Marlins Park will host the 2017 All-Star Game.
The news is a crowning achievement for Marlins and South Florida supporters determined for years to secure the summer showcase. It also caps a monumental "Hot Stove" season for the Marlins, which made a huge splash in November with the benchmark signing of two-time All-Star Giancarlo Stanton to the richest contract in baseball history.
Marlins Park, with a capacity of 37,000 (counting standing room), opened in 2012, and in '13 it was a second-round site for the World Baseball Classic. It will follow Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park (2015) and San Diego's Petco Park (2016) as an All-Star host site. The game is slated to be held on July 11, 2017.
"Today's announcement is a landmark moment for our ballclub and one that comes on the heels of many exciting moves we've made this season," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said. "The future is bright for Miami and its baseball fans."
The news conference was attended by Commissioner Rob Manfred, Loria, team president David Samson, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City of Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
"I've only been the Commissioner of baseball for 20 days," Manfred said. "During those 20 days, I've had a lot of firsts. Today is another first for me. ... This beautiful Marlins Park, where we are today, will host the 88th Midsummer Classic, and it is appropriate that the game will be held in the 25th ... year of the Miami Marlins.
"More important than any of the events is that the All-Star Game will allow us to touch communities in Miami in a number of significant ways. We at MLB see the All-Star Game as an opportunity to give back to our fans. Millions of dollars will be channeled to charitable organizations in this area."
Although the All-Star Game is lined up for three straight National League cities, Manfred noted that in alternating years the American League will have the final at-bat. So in 2016, the AL will essentially be the home team. The NL is lined up to hit last in 2017.
"I smiled when [Manfred] said 20 days, because his impact to baseball has been going on for decades," Samson said. "But as Commissioner, his commitment to youth baseball, youth initiatives, to the globalization of the game, it all starts here in Miami, because we are the epicenter of the globalization of the game."
Samson added the All-Star Game projects to infuse $100 million in economic impact. The full event includes the Futures Game, and Home Run Derby. MLB also will have a FanFest, which will take place in Miami Beach.
The state-of-the-art stadium features bright colors and was designed to blend in with Miami's artsy downtown skyline. The park is filled with South Florida flair. It features two 450-gallon saltwater fish tanks behind home plate. The aquariums are protected by shatterproof fiberglass. On the promenade level is the Bobblehead Museum, a popular stopping point for fans as they immediately enter the ballpark.
"We have made a concerted effort to reward the most deserving cities that present the best bids; that's why Miami got this game," Manfred said. "We understand that Miami is the Gateway to Latin America. We also understand that Miami is a city that knows how to celebrate, and we're going to be here to celebrate our global reach."
Next to the visitors' bullpen in left field is the trendy Clevelander, a nightclub complete with a swimming pool. And in center field is the multicolored, 72-foot home run sculpture, which is set in motion each time a Miami player homers.
Marlins Park is built on the grounds of the Orange Bowl, the former home of the University of Miami and Miami Dolphins football teams. Rich in football history, the Orange Bowl was the venue for five Super Bowls and 11 national championship games before being demolished in 2008.
The 2017 All-Star Game continues the rich sports legacy for the area.
Underscoring the significance of Friday's announcement is the fact top MLB and team officials were on hand, as well as local and high-ranking political leaders from Florida.
"As we continue to grow baseball, we'll have more and more tourism here," Gov. Scott said. "It's growing jobs in our state. But all this adds to the culture of our cities and our state."
"More than 60 percent of our population is foreign-born," Mayor Gimenez said. "It drives our dynamic growth. It has turned us into a place for innovation and creativity. You could not have chosen a better place to host this event."
Said Mayor Regalado: "More important than the $100 million in economic benefit, more important than the 75,000 rooms in our hotels, more important than the viewing audience throughout the world is that this game is of great importance for the soul of the City of Miami. The City of Miami is the most diverse city in the U.S."
Manfred, who replaced Bud Selig as Commissioner in January, has said he plans on adopting a bidding process for future All-Star sites.
From their inaugural 1993 season through 2011, the Marlins shared Sun Life Stadium with the Dolphins. The franchise was previously the Florida Marlins, before changing to the Miami Marlins in 2012.
The Marlins have never hosted an All-Star Game. They were originally slated to do so in 2000, but MLB switched the game to Atlanta's Turner Field, which opened in 1997.
Former Marlins All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell, who was part of the 2003 World Series team, attended the news conference. A Miami native, Lowell knows all that the market has endured.
"I'm glad the city got the game because it was supposed to get it 15 years back," Lowell said. "It's good."