Host Kansas City draws All-Star raves
Commissioner Selig says 83rd Midsummer Classic was a rousing success
KANSAS CITY -- How many National League pitchers does it take win an All-Star Game? Eleven, and they pitched a shutout. How many people does it take to put on an All-Star Week? Thousands, and they threw a perfect game.
Kansas City took a deep breath Wednesday and reflected on the wild and very wonderful week that encompassed the 83rd All-Star Game -- and all the satellite events and community projects that went with it.
"I am unbelievably proud of the Royals' organization, the city of Kansas City, the county. Everyone involved just went above and beyond," Royals owner David Glass said.
"Talking to Major League Baseball, they were elated with the way everything happened in Kansas City. And I talked to tons of people at FanFest and on the streets, in restaurants and at the ballpark. They'd come there and they couldn't believe how beautiful the ballpark was, how beautiful the city was, the hospitality, how nice everyone was. In looking at it and saying, 'Do you need a correction of errors? If you do this again, what would we change?' And we couldn't come up with anything. I think it went off as well as it could."
Commissioner Bud Selig, who was convinced by Glass to bring the much-sought All-Star Game to Kansas City, pronounced himself profoundly impressed.
"It's been really wonderful. Every event has been sold out, even the Futures Game. All the events have been good," Selig told a meeting of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "The Glass family, the Royals, everybody really [made this] a great thing for Kansas City. You can debate the economics -- is it $60 million, $80 million, $100 million, I'll let the Kansas City people do that, but it's a lot -- but I think as you watch what's happening in this community, you see how important it is to it. It's an uplifting event, to say the least, and the Royals have really gone the extra mile to make this happen. So I want to thank them and acknowledge how I feel."
Selig said that for years he had to beg cities to hold the All-Star Game. Now, in its expanded format, he has cities fighting for the event, as Glass knows well.
"We had a lot of competition for it this year but Bud gave it to us and hung in there with us and it worked out for us great," Glass said.
The main events -- the SiriusXM Futures Game plus a celebrity softball game, the State Farm Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself -- each drew more than 40,000 fans to Kauffman Stadium, which was renovated at a cost of about $250 million with this goal in mind. The game was awarded to Kansas City on June 16, 2010, and preparations were ongoing for more than two years.
"I'm pleasantly surprised that nothing big popped up. It ran smoother than I ever expected, but I think we were pretty well prepared," said Kevin Uhlich, the Royals' senior vice president of business operations, who oversaw the massive undertaking. "The staff at MLB did an awesome job, the city, the police department and all their departments really did a great job. We just had great cooperation all the way across the board, and I think it paid off in the end."
The center of the All-Star universe was the Truman Sports Complex, home to Kauffman Stadium and also Arrowhead Stadium, the football facility that was used for media events. The five-day FanFest was held at the downtown convention center and the Red Carpet Show and parade was at the Country Club Plaza.
"I don't have the final numbers, but I think we were well over 100,000 at FanFest. I'm trying to figure out how many people were at the Red Carpet Show, but that's a real tough number to try to gauge," Uhlich said. "But anybody who witnessed it firsthand saw how positive everybody was."
After the Home Run Derby, a 70,000-square-foot tent erected in the stadium parking lot served as a festive setting for the All-Star Gala.
The fans at the stadium events stayed to the end, right to the last flare of fireworks, or the last soaring home run, or the last pitch.
"People just got on board, they wanted to be a part of All-Star and it was awesome the way everybody turned out, and they stayed right on through it," Uhlich said.
At the Derby, Kansas City fans fervently booed the Yankees' Robinson Cano for leaving the Royals' Billy Butler off the American League home run team and Cano later complained that some fans verbally abused his mother and members of his family in the stadium.
"If fans harassed his family, then that's going too far," Glass said.
"Robby Cano is a good kid and I think he took the high road. He said that getting booed didn't bother him, he expected it and being a Yankee he gets booed in most towns. I thought he handled it well. I also understand that fans have a right to express their sentiment, but I would've stopped short of doing anything that would involve his family."
Uhlich said the All-Star Game was pretty much a break-even enterprise for the Royals, although they did have the benefit of increased season ticket sales and average attendance increase because of the All-Star buzz.
"The only thing we take from it is baseball gives us $2 million from the Monday night event and that's what funds the legacy projects that we put back into the community," Uhlich said. "We pass 100 percent of that back into these community projects."
David Glass, team president Dan Glass, Selig and All-Star Ambassador George Brett presided over many of the community and charity projects that benefit from the All-Star funds.
"The average fan doesn't get to experience that, but that's another side to the All-Star events that I think is just sensational and Kansas City handled it unbelievably well," David Glass said.
Those made an impression on Uhlich as well.
"The events were fun and having the All-Stars here was fun," Uhlich said. "But it was wonderful to go to those community projects and see the work that was done and see the appreciation the community had. A lot of them had to do with kids, and to see how excited they were with it, honestly, I think those are some of the more lasting memories that I'm going to take from this game."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.