NOTE: Maury Brown will be reporting from the All-Star Game Home Run Derby and All-Star Game beginning tonight.
On Tuesday night, the most watched All-Star Game of all the Big Four sports will take place when Major League Baseball’s 81st “Mid-Summer Classic” takes place from Angels Stadium in Anaheim. The game is the centerpiece of the All-Star festivities, the largest part of a 5-day festival that sees a 5K Run, Red Carpet Parade, a massive FanFest at the Anaheim Convention Center, a memorabilia auction… and those are just a handful of events that don’t include actual play on the field, such as the Futures Game, Celebrity Softball Game, the Home Run Derby, and yes… the All-Star Game.
Planning such an event is a herculean task that sees thousands of workers, volunteers, and security swarm the festivities. Organizing such an event is years in the making, with hundreds of man hours going into making it all happen.
So, how does an MLB All-Star Game get planned? Details to flesh out who might get All-Star for a given year begins as soon as the Commissioner makes some determination as to which clubs and which cities want to host the All-Star Game, according to Marla Miller, Senior Vice-President of Special Events for Major League Baseball. Each club that is up for consideration is provided with an “All-Star Specification Manual” that details the criteria that a club wishing to host the All-Star Game must meet. Miller’s team starts looking into the details behind the scenes such as Convention Center space to host the 5 day FanFest, hotel accommodations, etc. needed to host such a large event for each of the contenders on the Commissioner’s short list. Feedback from Miller based upon Convention Center or hotel space availability in July, when it is at a premium, can play into the decision making process.
“We’re up to over 400,000 sq ft. that is needed for All-Star FanFest,” said Miller. “If a club’s market doesn’t have that kind of space available for a given year of All-Star, that particular market may not work for us for that year.”
From there, a fleet of groups work to make All-Star happen. There is the All-Star Planning Committee, that is comprised of Major League Baseball and host staff, but underneath that are a number of subcommittees, including sponsorships, decorating, hotel, hospitality, media, broadcasting, tickets, transportation, etc. Not including paid personnel, there are 1,700 volunteers for this year’s All-Star Game festivities to cater to not only tens of thousands fans, but a media throng numbering around 2,000, VIPs, execs, and the players. The Anaheim Marriott and Hilton, located directly next to the Convention Center is ground zero for MLB with media work rooms, rooms for MLB planners, and specialty groups such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
With the 2010 game in Anaheim, and the FanFest being held directly across the street from Disneyl,and, the tie in with Disney looms large of this year’s event. There has been a merchandising partnership that sees cross-licensed products, and large statues of Mickey Mouse adorned in MLB logos are scattered throughout Anaheim. Miller said that Disney was approached early on in the process and that Disneyland was contacted to have part of the All-Star Red Carpet Parade go down Main Street, U.S.A where all the players will greet fans. The Red Carpet show is now in its sixth year, was started in Detroit in 2005.
In its second year, the All-Star has hosted a 5K Run as part of the festivities. This year saw over 9,000 runners.
A key source of eyebrow raising has centered on musical entertainment for the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. This year sees Amber Riley, a case member of FOX’s show “Glee” singing as part of the PEOPLE “All Stars Among Us” pre-game festivities, as well as the National Anthem. The case of “Glee” also sang the National Anthem before Game 5 of last year’s World Series, which FOX also broadcasts. Yet, it is MLB that claims to drive the entertainment direction, not FOX.
“We went to FOX given how strong Glee is right now in terms of demographics, and the quality of their level of performance for the pre-game and National Anthem,” said Miller.
All of this adds up to a massive coordination endeavor. With all that is involved, planning for this year’s All-Star in Anaheim began in October of 2007, well before Commissioner Selig officially announced that the Angels would be hosting the event, meaning that shortly after the World Series, plans for the 2013 All-Star Game will get underway.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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