(670 The Score) MLB is on the hunt for a new venue and city to host the All-Star Game in July after it chose to move the showcase event out of Atlanta following the state of Georgia’s new law aimed at restricting voting rights.
The commissioner’s office has a self-imposed deadline of later this week to find a new host. Last Friday, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker tweeted that the state of Illinois “would welcome the All-Star Game safety and enthusiastically” – whether it be the Cubs or the White Sox as the host. As the league considers its options, the Cubs have made it clear that they’d be happy to host the All-Star Game this July if approached about it.
"We appreciate the governor’s vote of confidence in Chicago's baseball parks to host the Midsummer Classic,” senior vice president of communications Julian Green said. “Our goal is to certainly be considered for an All-Star Game. We hope MLB will make that happen for the city of Chicago and our great fans.”
While the Cubs would welcome the All-Star Game, it’s highly unlikely they get it this July. MLB wouldn’t have announced it was pulling the All-Star Game from Atlanta if it didn’t already have backchannel discussions with other potential hosts, a source said, and the Cubs haven’t had those talks.
The Cubs last hosted the All-Star Game in 1990 and have been passed up since despite expressing interest. It appears the Cubs have been cast aside in part because they financed the Wrigley Field renovation project through private funds and money raised by ownership. MLB has often granted the game to cities that have put up public funding when building new ballparks in recent years.
Beyond that, MLB has viewed Wrigley Field as an awkward venue of sorts to host the All-Star Game because of the setup of the surrounding neighborhood. There's little space to host ancillary All-Star events and parties in Wrigleyville, and moving them elsewhere in the city wouldn’t help the Cubs showcase their ballpark and the surrounding area.
Before Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot took office, the city had failed to support the team’s plan to re-route traffic around the stadium on game days. And hosting the All-Star Game comes with security risks, which are a little more complicated around Wrigley Field because of the cramped area with homes and adjacent buildings so close.
The city of Chicago also takes a hefty 12% amusement tax on tickets sold, and Wrigley Field is the only privately owned ballpark that's subject to that. Those have all been viewed as red flags in the eyes of some league office executives when considering whether Wrigley Field should host an All-Star Game again.
The MLB All-Star Game usually generates between $225 million and $250 million for the host city and state when fans are welcomed at full capacity, sources said.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.