SBJ/July 1-7, 2013/Events and Attractions

Mets, MLB prep for All-Star

On most days, the New York Mets operate in the shadow of the neighboring, more popular Yankees. Such comparisons will be a prominent factor for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, as well.

This year’s game is scheduled for July 16 at the Mets’ Citi Field. The 2008 game, held at the old Yankee Stadium in its final year, in many ways redefined the scale of what baseball’s midsummer classic could be as an event, setting many league business records — including $148.4 million in local economic impact — that still stand.

Apple statues have been placed throughout the city.
Photo by: MLB PHOTOS
But even with the game being back in New York just five years later, marking the quickest return to a market for the event in more than seven decades, MLB and Mets officials are focused on giving this year’s game a distinct, unique feel.

“You never want to repeat yourself, and with the setting of Citi Field, we’ve tried to come up with unique ways to do different things,” said Marla Miller, MLB senior vice president of special events.

Some elements of All-Star Week can’t help but be duplicated, such as the return of FanFest to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York’s main convention hall, and the resumption of shuttle buses to help move fans and VIPs around the disparately located All-Star events in Manhattan and Queens. MLB will once again hold a free concert at Central Park (July 13), this time with the New York Philharmonic and Long Island native Mariah Carey. Additionally, 35 apple statues placed around New York, inspired by the Mets’ Home Run Apple, recall the Statues on Parade program conducted with the Yankees in 2008 and reconstituted in local fashion in six other All-Star host cities in recent years. Some of this year’s locations match the sites from five years ago, as well.

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But the route for the annual Red Carpet Parade has been shifted from a southward path on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan in 2008 to a westward direction along 42nd Street this year, starting not far from Times Square. The All-Star 5K run has been moved from its traditional Sunday morning time slot to a Saturday scheduling, and it will benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts instead of its prior dedication to fighting cancer. MLB also will be able to stage its All-Star sponsor zone in the Citi Field parking lot, something not possible with the tighter confines of old Yankee Stadium.

The MLB Fan Cave, located in New York’s Greenwich Village, did not exist in 2008. It will be an additional component of this year’s All-Star festivities, particularly in the week preceding the game.

One other benefit of being back in New York so soon is the opportunity to work a second time with the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which already possessed a deep familiarity with the All-Star Game. MLB and the city did not formally announce the Citi Field game until just 14 months ago, an unusually short lead time for All-Star Game host cities. But efforts to bring the event back to New York began well before then, and negotiations occurred with many of the same city officials as in 2008.

City officials are projecting nearly $200 million in local economic impact for this year’s All-Star Game, a sum more than three times what was generated in Kansas City a year ago and by far a new event record. To get there, though, there likely will need to be improvements in both the ticket market and corporate-level travel for the event. Five years ago, a Yankees season-ticket base of more than 38,000 full-season equivalents help pushed the All-Star Game ticket resale market into a frenzy, with full strip prices routinely exceeding $1,200 and VIPs scrambling to find non-bleacher seats.

Citi Field, with a capacity of less than 43,000 for the All-Star Game events, is more than 12,000 seats smaller than that facility, and the Mets have a season-ticket base roughly half as large as the Yankees did in 2008. With the Mets also not carrying the same local cachet as the Yankees, All-Star ticket demand is softer this year, and full-strip tickets (which provide access to multiple All-Star events) can be easily obtained on the secondary market for less than $800.

“I’m not seeing the same kind of awareness for this event as five years ago,” said Robert Tuchman, president of Goviva, a New York-based event travel company. “There definitely was more buzz leading up to this in ’08. Maybe it goes back to the Yankees-Mets thing, or the last year of [Yankee Stadium]. But it’s almost like there’s been more buzz for the Super Bowl,” he said, looking ahead to the NFL’s Feb. 2 game at nearby MetLife Stadium.

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