ATLANTA (AP) – For the third time in a half-century and the first time in two decades, Major League Baseball will bring its All-Star game to metro Atlanta in 2021.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made it official Wednesday, announcing at a ceremony in The Battery Atlanta that the sport’s marquee summer event will be played at SunTrust Park in July 2021.
Baseball’s All-Star game was played at Atlanta Stadium, later renamed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, in 1972 and at Turner Field in 2000.
The Braves had been lobbying MLB to bring the event to SunTrust Park since the Cobb County ballpark opened in 2017.
“I think this is going to be one of those events that is a defining moment in time for us to showcase SunTrust Park and (adjacent mixed-use development) The Battery Atlanta in front of a worldwide audience,” Braves president and CEO Derek Schiller said Wednesday. “To have all eyes on Atlanta and SunTrust Park at that time is something we’re really looking forward to and can’t wait for.
“Short of a World Series game occurring in this ballpark, which we hope will happen very soon, this is the largest event in the world of baseball. This is something every team, every community, every ballpark, wants to have.”
On hand for the announcement ceremony were 10 former Braves All-Stars, including Hank Aaron, who hit a home run in the 1972 game, and Chipper Jones, who went 3-for-3 with a homer in the 2000 game. Also participating in the ceremony: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott.
Schiller said the Braves intend to make the All-Star week “a metro Atlanta-wide event,” with ancillary events spreading from Centennial Olympic Park downtown to the Cobb Galleria Centre near the ballpark.
Like other marquee sports events, the All-Star game has grown over the years into a multi-day attraction that extends well beyond the game itself.
Two days before the main event, the All-Star Futures game is played, featuring top minor-league prospects, as well as a softball game with MLB legends and celebrities.
One day before the main event, the popular Home Run Derby is held, featuring some of the sport’s top sluggers competing to see who can hit the most batting-practice pitches out of the park. Those events will be held in SunTrust Park.
An indoor fan festival likely lasting four or five days will be held in the Cobb Galleria Centre, and an outdoor fan event is planned for Centennial Olympic Park.
Availability of hotel rooms in downtown, Midtown, Buckhead and the Cumberland area of Cobb County was cited in the Braves’ bid.
Schiller said all Braves season-ticket holders will receive the opportunity to buy tickets to the All-Star game.
He also expects some tickets to be available to the general public.
The All-Star game will extend an extraordinary recent run of sports mega-events in metro Atlanta, drawn by two new stadiums that opened in 2017 at a combined cost of more than $2 billion, including hundreds of millions of dollars each in public funding.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosted college football’s national championship game in January 2018 and the Super Bowl in February 2019, and it will host college basketball’s Final Four in April 2020. The downtown stadium also hosted the MLS All-Star game last year.
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