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Dear Mr. Selig: A Case for Cincinnati to Host the All-Star Game

UntitledIn the past two weeks, Cincinnati has proved that it can be on the world stage. The World Choir Games were an unexpected hit (particularly to the organizer, INTERKULTUR, who is now setting up an office here and looking to Cincinnati as the host of other choir-related festivities). Bunbury Festival attracted some top acts (despite being scheduled the same weekend as Pitchfork) and a ton of music fans. You couldn’t even get to the river this weekend, between Bunbury, the finale of the World Choir Games and the Reds-Cardinals game.

On the other end of the downtown basin, Washington Park opened with a bang. On Friday night, people were shoulder-to-shoulder listening to R&B. On Saturday, people were shoulder-to-shoulder enjoying City Flea. The park was even populated by families, workers, and picnickers on Monday afternoon when a friend and I grabbed lunch and ate on a park bench.

I think Cincinnati may just be proud of itself. That’s pretty impressive, considering how many years we’ve had a self-esteem issue.

In light of this, there are discussions going around town about what’ll be here next: Tall Stacks? Cincinnati’s 225th anniversary? Olympics? The All-Star Game?

My vote is for the All-Star game.

Hey, you guys at Major League Baseball? Mr. Selig? Casual fan here. I don’t go to more than ten games a year. I cannot tell you Joey Votto’s batting average (though I know it’s well above the Mendoza line). I don’t know Mat Latos’ ERA. I am a food writer, and not a sports writer. If I am a guest on sports radio, it’s because I have something to say about GABP’s food offerings, not Janish’s trade to the Braves. Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t like sports because men like women to like sports, I legitimately like baseball. It’s relaxing. And when it’s a good game, the energy in a ballpark is electric (have you noticed, Mr. Selig, that the Reds are having more and more good games?). I enjoy visiting ballparks outside of Cincinnati. I also happen to like tennis and pretty much any Olympic or X-Games sport (also known as “crazy stuff you can do in the summer” and “crazy stuff you can do in the snow or ice”, depending on the season). I have even been known to watch MMA. I have a little perspective, I think.

We need the All-Star game.

The Mets will be hosting the 2013 All-Star game at Citi Field. I get it. It’s a cool park. It’s brand spankin’ new. New parks, understandably, tend to attract the All-Star game. Except for this year, where you went for a small-market team in a 30-year-old stadium. I can’t be the only one scratching my head over that one. And many of us are left scratching our heads over the exclusion of Great American from the All-Star Game since it opened in 2003.

Fine, when Great American opened in 2003, we were only a couple of years off of the riots. Downtown was on life support. Cincinnati wasn’t terribly interesting. And since then, you’ve picked lots of big-market parks: Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium, Busch Stadium, Chase Field. You’ve picked some mid-market parks too, most notably PNC Park in Pittsburgh (which, admittedly, is a pretty cool venue). So why have you forgotten about Cincinnati?

Besides the obvious, like the fact that the Reds are the oldest franchise, what’s not to like? ESPN has certainly caught on, featuring the breathtaking skyline several times during prime-time games. By the time 2015 rolls around, another phase of the Banks will be open, including some hotels and more restaurants. There’s plenty of stuff for folks to do without having to stray too far from the ballpark. If they want to venture out a bit, the Streetcar will be able to take them to Over-the-Rhine. I’m not even sure what to say about what OTR will be like in 2015, but if the park and development go as planned– it will be a destination. You want a tour? Call me.

Cincinnati can handle the people who’ll be here. We’ve proven that with the World Choir Games– even enlisting Metro for special shuttles and enlisting a few thousand volunteers. We’ll put out the red carpet, and by the time you get here in 2015, we’ll be even more prepared after more events. Heck, we’ve hosted events for you, Mr. Selig– don’t forget the Civil Rights Games in 2009 and 2010. I can assure you that the city is even better than it was then. Our people are still friendly (Cincinnati is, after all, the Southernmost Northern city… or is it the Northernmost Southern city? Anyway, being nice is in our DNA). Our food is even better than it was two years ago (and we won’t necessarily make you try Cincinnati Chili, but that can be arranged if needed). Beer– what’s baseball without it? We have lots of it (and more coming, once Moerlein opens its production facilities in Over-the-Rhine, as well as some other, smaller breweries– and we still have Sam Adams, to boot). You can get it within the park as well as right next door, in the new Banks development. The view from the Moerlein Lager House is even more impressive than the view from the ballpark, or you can get a beer at the Holy Grail or the built-by-then Yard House too). We have places to walk and picnic (Smale Park? Washington Park? Serpentine Wall? Friendship Park?). Our friends across the river in Covington and Newport? They’ll put out the red carpet too. It’s a short walk or taxi ride from the hotels on the other side of the river to the ballpark.

We’re starting to get more tourist business. The New York Times has caught on, as has Lonely Planet (twice). Jacksonville, Florida has read all about us, and so has Cleveland. Food + Wine has noticed, including Best New Chef in the Great Lakes (twice). Don’t get me wrong: DC, considered the frontrunner, is a great city, and the Nationals have a sweet ballpark (I’ve been there!)– but does it need an injection of support like a city like Cincinnati does? It’s already a premiere tourist destination– it’s the capital of the country, for goodness’ sake. Cincinnati has some history too, and you can help more people hear about it.

So, Mr. Selig, you probably think I’m just a Cincinnati resident who doesn’t understand the machinations of baseball. I get it. You like bigger cities because that means bigger money. If the World Series this year were between the Reds and, say, the Twins, you’d have heart palpitations. That said, the big-market emphasis makes the whole KC choice a little odd, but I suppose you’re allowed to make an exception. I’m asking you to make another one. Pretty, newer ballpark. City pulling itself up from decades of decline. It’s a great story that sponsors and the media will be all over. You like sponsors and media, right?

There is nothing prettier than a ballpark at night. And, though I’ve been lots of different places in the US and abroad, the Cincinnati skyline is right up there, particularly at night. Pair those pretty shots taken from the DirecTV blimp with the oldest club in baseball in a city that’s got a compelling story?

Well, that’s money in the bank.

Consider it, Mr. Selig. We promise we’ll make it worth your while.

And readers– have a reason Cincinnati should be the 2015 All-Star Game host? Comment here or use the hashtag #RedsASG2015 on Twitter. ¬†Plus, don’t forget the Facebook page!

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