Phoenix Hosting All-Star Game Amid Player Withdrawals, Immigration Controversy
Following “years of lobbying to play host, after months of immigration-law protests, and despite a week of injury-riddled players dropping out, Arizona’s day at the center of the baseball world is here” with its hosting of tonight’s MLB All-Star Game, according to Nick Piecoro of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The game is “sold out, as usual, and Chase Field was nearly full for the Home Run Derby; fewer than 2,000 seats were remaining to be sold as of late Monday afternoon.” D’Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said that the “local response has been good.” Hall: “I’m real proud of our fans. It was a concern of Major League Baseball’s when they selected us. Attendance was a concern. Weather was a concern. The weather has played very well here, and fans have far exceeded MLB’s expectations. They’re ecstatic with the results thus far. They said this is one of the best All-Star Game weeks they can remember” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/12). Hall initially had “worried that … ongoing protests over Arizona’s immigration policy could steal headlines from the game.” He said, “We’ve made it clear from day one that we don’t think baseball and politics should mix” (K.C. STAR, 7/12).
ENCOURAGED TO SPEAK OUT: The AP’s Ronald Blum reported Rev. Jesse Jackson is “urging baseball’s All-Stars to speak out against the Arizona immigration law.” Jackson: “It’s obviously too late for them to withdraw from the scene. I think they should play, and they should speak out, which would be of value.” Red Sox DH David Ortiz “was one of the few players willing to talk about the law” yesterday. He said, “I’m an immigrant. I definitely would never agree with any treating of immigrants bad -- the wrong way.” But Ortiz “won’t get involved with protests,” saying, “I’m not here for that.” Mets RF Carlos Beltran said, “It’s something that doesn’t have to do anything with sport. It’s something that affects a certain part of the population.” Blum noted Phoenix-based Hispanic civil rights group Somos America has “asked fans, players and coaches to wear a white ribbon showing solidarity against the law” (AP, 7/11). Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced that he is “changing his plans to have chain gangs stationed outside of Chase Field” before tonight’s game. Arpaio’s “decision to debut the all-immigrant chain at the All-Star Game was thought to be in response to other demonstrators who plan to protest Arizona’s controversial immigration law outside the stadium.” But Arpaio said, “I’m not going to interfere with the ball game” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/12). In Toronto, Richard Griffin notes “most of the righteous indignation at the All-Star Game stems from” the fact that 16 players “have chosen not to play in the midsummer classic.” But he added, "The real indignation from the rest of the world should be directed at the state of Arizona for passing a law like" SB 1070 (TORONTO STAR, 7/12).
FUTURE PLANS In K.C., Rustin Dodd notes the All-Star Game “comes to Kansas City for the first time in nearly four decades” next year, and the “official countdown begins Aug. 2, when the Royals unveil the logo for the 2012 All-Star Game.” Royals Senior VP/Business Operations Kevin Uhlich said that MLB officials will “arrive in Kansas City for meetings later this summer, and specific plans will begin to take shape from there.” The framework is “already in place.” Nearly 3,000 hotel rooms “have been blocked off,” and plans for a “VIP tent compound are in the works.” Dodd: “So too is the work of quelling transportation concerns, selling tickets and making sure that Kansas City comes across in a positive light” (K.C. STAR, 7/12). Meanwhile, in West Palm Beach, Dave George writes the Marlins’ new ballpark “will land an All-Star game soon, and most likely in 2015.” Marlins President David Samson said, “We’d like to host in 2015, at the commissioner’s discretion. We’ve made it known.” George notes the "unofficial word" is that the Mets' CitiField is the choice for '13, followed by the Twins' Target Field in ’14 and then the Miami Marlins, "rebranded and retooled for a fresh start at their downtown location.” There is an “argument to be made for the Nationals, too, who also want the 2015 All-Star game to shine the light” on Nationals Park, which opened in ’08 (PALM BEACH POST, 7/12).