MLB All-Star Game puts D.C. in spotlight
The restoration of the southeast Washington, D.C., neighborhood surrounding Nationals Park was a key part of the reasoning behind the 2004 relocation of the Montreal Expos to the nation’s capital. Nearly 14 years later, that accelerating development now stands as a focal point of this month’s MLB All-Star Game.
This year’s All-Star Game events, slated for July 13-17, will showcase the once-dilapidated area surrounding the 10-year-old ballpark. In addition to the in-stadium events of the Futures Game, the Home Run Derby and the Midsummer Classic itself, MLB has planned a series of nearby activities including:
A retooled All-Star Red Carpet Show: After more than a decade of players riding in cars and trucks, they will instead walk a red carpet, similar to an awards show, stopping along the way for photos and autographs with fans. The July 17 event will start and end outside Nationals Park with the players then heading into the stadium’s Home Plate Gate for pregame preparation.
Play Ball Park: This location a block northeast from the stadium will serve as the hub for MLB’s youth baseball participation activities during All-Star Week. The Color Run All-Star 5K will be routed through Play Ball Park, and it also will be the site for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s annual All-Star Town Hall chat with fans.
All-Star Summer Riverfront Festival: A two-day family event on July 14 and 15 at the nearby waterfront Yards Park featuring music, food trucks, baseball-themed games and other similar activities.
MLB Assembly: Somewhat similar to the Riverfront Festival, this will be another waterfront event that is held on the Washington Channel instead of the Anacostia River, and it will include art installations, fashion collaborations and visiting DJs.
Increase in demand for All-Star Game tickets compared to 2017 in Miami.
Increase in average ticket sale price, which is now $617 versus $337 last year.
The collection of events near Nationals Park seeks to serve as a visible testament to the large-scale transformation of the area. Previously a crime-ridden mix of industrial lots and vacant parcels, it has been transformed over the past decade into a still-growing mix of housing, office complexes and retail. “The development in the area has been incredible and that’s something we’re obviously looking to showcase,” said Marla Miller, MLB senior vice president of special events, and a league employee since 1989. “You think about what was in that area prior to the ballpark, it was basically nothing. But it’s now become this huge hub of activity.”
Enthusiasm for the event should be significantly higher than last year, which saw lagging fan interest in Miami and resulted in none of the key events actually selling out.
Tickets for All-Star events have been much more in demand, as more than 95 percent of the Nationals’ full- and half-season ticket holders bought All-Star tickets, and secondary market prices for many events are highly sought-after. “Some of the premium areas have been trading at six times face,” said Valerie Camillo, the Nationals’ chief revenue and marketing officer.