Kansas City, Missouri will be the host for the 2012 Major League Baseball All Star Game. This is a significant and historic event for our area, and a particular kudo for the State of Missouri, as we hosted the 2009 All Star Game in St. Louis. That event was grand, and made history as one of the strongest performance events in the recent past. The planning committee for the 2012 KC events hopes to at least meet their numbers, and if all goes as we hope, exceed their success.
A delegation of the planning committee came to Arizona to watch and learn. Having the ability to see the events first hand is worth a thousand emails. Our official travel party are taking notes, video, and photographing all of the details for the event: move in day for the Fan Fest, all of the set-up and logistics, hotel accommodations and amenities, traffic patterns, marketing and public relations, volunteer recruitment, corporate and community sponsorship activities and events, team events, youth sports events, fundraising efforts for charity partners, etc.
The behind the scenes activities are always a part of putting together a successful event. The planning and choreography must succeed. If there are any errors or omissions, not only does the event become a disappointment, but the broadcast becomes a challenge too. This game has traditionally been among the top-rated TV programs of the summer. Last year’s game in Anaheim, California, pulled in a 7.5 rating – the lowest ever for the event, but still high enough to make it one of the summer’s top sports draws on television.
Major League Baseball owns the rights to all of the branding for the event. Here is a photo of one of the 10 7-foot tall cactus statues scattered throughout the area in honor of the activities. We will find out in August what the image will be for the Kansas City events, along with the official logo for all of the activities. The state, the city, the Royals, all have some input, but we don’t decide the final design. That is dictated by MLB.
Because of the heat in Arizona, many of the events that have become synonymous with prior All-Star Celebrations have been altered. There will be no Charity 5K Run. The organizers had opted for a Charity “Dance-Off” for approximately 5,000 guests over a 9 hour period in partnership with “Glee” choreographer Zach Woodlee to benefit several cancer research charities. But the Saturday event was just canceled amid disappointing ticket sales.
This returning event is a popular one, the Grand Opening MLB All-Star FanFest held this year in the Phoenix Convention Center, runs from Friday through Tuesday. The events in St. Louis two years ago were the most successful in the history of the event. In Anaheim, there were 118,429 attendees, off 21 percent from the St. Louis effort. However, the improved per-capita merchandise sales boosted income.
The teams from the Junior RBI Classic Opening Ceremonies & Clinic also get to attend FanFest. Their games run on Friday and Saturday. This year, there is a unique Missouri connection to these games. Usually there are 12 teams invited by MLB to play, this year the number grew to 13. In a classy move by MLB and the Arizona Diamondbacks, players from Joplin were extended a special invitation. These 11-and 12-year-olds from the Joplin South Little Leagues were given a star-studded welcome when they arrived in Phoenix as officials rolled out the red carpet for head coach Tom Owen and his kids. In addition to competing in the Junior RBI tournament against teams from across the country, they will attend the FanFest too, and have a chance to mingle on the field before Monday’s Home Run Derby.
MLB has a connection to Joplin. From 2001-06 MLB hosted its Tournament of Stars showcase of the top 144 18-year old players in Joplin before moving the event to North Carolina. Obviously, when ready, Joplin would welcome them back.
As for me, after meetings yesterday and this morning, I am off to see if I can catch up to these superstars from Joplin, and explore the FanFest. Stay tuned!