Seattle Mariners land 2023 All-Star Game, one year earlier than expected

Former Seattle Mariners players Edgar Martinez, left, and Ken Griffey Jr., right, look out over the Seattle skyline after they raised a flag for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game on the roof of the Space Needle, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

SEATTLE — When the Seattle Mariners started down the path of bidding for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the target was 2024 or later to host for a third time.

When MLB came back to the club earlier this year asking if 2023 was a possibility, the Mariners quickly kicked into gear.

"I think with some of the shuffling that went on, (2023) became the more viable alternative," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday. "And I have to say, the Mariners did a fantastic job in terms of the up-tempo, the preparation. It takes a lot to pull off an All-Star Game, a lot of preparation and planning and (Mariners Chairman) John (Stanton) and his people did a fantastic job getting ready sooner."

Seattle was formally unveiled as the host of the 2023 midsummer classic Thursday, making the announcement inside the Space Needle with Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez looking on.

Seattle's first All-Star Game was in 1979 at the Kingdome, and it hosted again 22 years later in 2001 at Safeco Field.

Twenty-two years later, the game will be back at what's now T-Mobile Park.

"I believe that the 2023 All-Star Game will give us the opportunity to celebrate the entire region," Stanton said. "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."

Seattle's turn as host will make for three straight years when the game is played in the Western half of the country. This year's All-Star Game was moved to Denver from Atlanta in April after Manfred made the decision to relocate the game because of a Georgia voting law that critics say will negatively affect communities of colour. His decision generally was denounced by conservatives and praised by liberals.

The 2022 game will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. It was originally scheduled to be there in 2020 before being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manfred said he was "not in a position" to comment on any conversations about a future game in Atlanta and commended Seattle on being ready to host quicker than expected.

"John and his people did a fantastic job getting ready sooner. You know our deepest hope is for baseball to return to its traditional kind of apolitical stance," Manfred said. "We're about entertaining our fans, having an inclusive environment that everybody can come and enjoy our games."

Seattle's bid was led by senior vice president Randy Adamack, who has been with the franchise for 44 of its 45 seasons.

Adamack said 2023 was part of the initial conversations but originally some of the "pieces of the puzzle weren't fitting together." There was talk of possibly looking at 2027 for the game and a chance to celebrate the 50th year of the franchise.

Adamack said when MLB reached out asking if 2023 was a possibility earlier this year, the biggest complication was securing hotels. Adamack estimated Seattle's initial bid book was about 120 pages, much of it about hotel space.

"It all came together in the last couple of months, and here we are,'' Adamack said.

A key element to Seattle's bid was a partnership with First and Goal, which operates Lumen Field across the street from the Mariners ballpark. The home stadium for the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders, and the area surrounding the two venues will be used extensively for fan activities.

"The other thing that is important to MLB is having the city support, the county and the state support, and we were able to communicate that in real tangible ways," Adamack said. "Having the corporate support in the city to make it happen for the business community, the sports community, it's a lot of entities and a lot of people coming together."

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