Despite the news breaking two days earlier, there was a still a level of excitement on the skyline of the Space Needle on a sunny Thursday afternoon when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred officially announced that T-Mobile Park would host the 2023 All-Star game.
“It’s a pleasure to be here in Seattle, and an even a greater pleasure to make it official: Major League Baseball has awarded the 2023 All-Star Game to Seattle and the Seattle Mariners,” Manfred said, drawing applause from a small group of attendees at the ceremony.
With Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Commissioner Dow Constantine, Mariners chairman John Stanton and Beth Knox, the president of the Seattle Sports Commission, also on the dais with Manfred and Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez seated nearby, the process of how the All-Star game was awarded to Seattle was outlined as well some of the plans moving forward. It is the second All-Star game held at the team’s current venue.
“I think many of you remember our last All-Star game here in 2001,” Manfred said. “I certainly do. Great performance by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, and the first All-Star game for one of the great Mariners Ichiro Suzuki. We look forward in 2023 to celebrating baseball and some of the great performances that have taken place here in Seattle, including those by Ken and Edgar (who) are kind enough to be here with us today.”
In the last decade, the process to host an All-Star game has changed. Teams and cities must put together bids and provide a plan for the infrastructure and accommodations for the weeklong event.
After promising Manfred and the people in attendance that the organization was committed to deliver the best All-Star game ever, Stanton thanked Randy Adamack, who has worked for the Mariners’ front office in multiple capacities since 1979, for leading the process to put together a bid for the All-Star game.
With Gov. Jay Inslee unable to attend the event because he was at the funeral of a Grant County Sheriff, Stanton read a statement from him.
“The Northwest has a rich baseball history and vibrant sports communities all over our state,” the statement read in part. “This world-class sports event is a great opportunity for our city and state to bring people together to celebrate our national pastime and enjoy our beautiful region. From the opening pitch to the seventh-inning stretch and beyond, there is not much that is better than baseball in Seattle.”
After reading Inslee’s statement, Stanton read from his own prepared thoughts about the All-Star game.
He noted the economic struggles as the city recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and the hope that the All-Star game will provide a boost to the city.
“This community is still struggling. The broader consequences of the pandemic have affected our spirit,” he read. “I believe that the 2023 All-Star game will give us the opportunity to celebrate the entire region. I think you have to agree to me looking out the window today, there is no nicer place in America than Seattle in the middle of summer. It’s a great opportunity for us to show off what we’ve got.”
Stanton also looked toward Durkan and Constantine as he pushed for civic projects, specifically naming Waterfront Park and the Eastlink extension on Sound Transit, to be finished in time for the game.
“The All-Star game can also be an inspiration for us, working with our leaders to redouble our efforts to address the challenges of homelessness, racial equity and community safety,” he said. “The eyes of the world will be on this community in 22 months, and it’s our opportunity to shine.”
Stanton committed the Mariners to more than $50 million in improvements to facilities. Some of those improvements will be outside the stadium as well, including the purchase of a nearby building.
The Mariners’ initial bid was to host in either 2024 and 2025 or even possibly 2027, the 50th anniversary of the team. But earlier in the year, Manfred approached them about 2023.