Traditionally, the All-Star game has alternated between leagues. The last time the same league hosted back-to-back All-Star Games was 2006-2007, when the game was played in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park then San Francisco’s AT&T Park, both in the National League. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1950-1951 to find All-Star Games hosted by the same league in back-to-back seasons (the White Sox’ Comiskey Park in 1950, Detroit’s Briggs Stadium in 1951). Awarding the 2017 game to the Marlins means that National League will host the game three years in a row, following Cincinnati this year and San Diego in 2016.
In the case of the Marlins in 2017, it appears that outgoing commissioner Bud Selig had slated the Marlins to get an All-Star Game in the near future after the team recently opened a new ballpark in 2012. Other teams in contention were the Baltimore Orioles, who last hosted the game in 1993, and the Washington Nationals. The Nationals have not hosted a game since their move from Montreal in 2005.
Along with the 2017 All-Star Game announcement, incoming commissioner Rob Manfred had this to say in a recent interview with ESPN’s Jayson Stark: “One of the things that I am going to try to do with the All-Star Games is—and we’ll make some announcements in the relatively short term—I am looking to be in more of a competitive-bidding, Super Bowl-awarding-type mode, as opposed to [saying], ‘You know, I think Chicago is a good idea’”.
- NFL controls 100 percent of the revenues from all ticket sales, including suites, and exclusive access to all club seats.
- Exclusive, cost-free use of 35,000 parking spaces for gameday parking.
- Full tax exemption from city, state, and local taxes for tickets sold to the Super Bowl, including the NFL Experience, the NFL Honors show and other NFL Official Events.
- NFL has the option to install ATMs that accept NFL preferred credit/debit cards in exchange for cash and to cover up other ATMs.
- Host city is asked to pay all travel and expenses for an optional “familiarization trip” for 180 people in advance of the Super Bowl to inspect the region.
- NFL requires the usage of three top-quality, 18-hole golf courses in close proximity to one another and greens and cart fees at these three courses must be waived or otherwise provided at no cost to the NFL. (Golf courses in Minneapolis in February? Really?!)
- NFL requires the reservation of up to two quality bowling venues at no rental cost.
Other sports have their own bidding processes for their showcase events. Notably, FIFA has had numerous scandals associated with the bidding process for the World Cup. Most recently, after awarding the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, FIFA had an investigator create a report looking into accusations of impropriety in the World Cup bidding process. They then announced that the report “cleared its integrity and should constitute closure” despite the fact that the 42-page summary of the report identified numerous instances of corruption, collusion, and vote-buying. Even as the chief chair of FIFA’s ethics committee patted himself on the back, the man who created the report, U.S. prosecutor Michael Garcia, claimed that the portrayal of his report was “erroneous and incomplete”.
Of course, the long-standing king of bidding process corruption would be the Olympics. Do a Google search on “corruption in the Olympics bidding process” and numerous articles as far back as 1999 turn up dealing with shenanigans when it comes to awarding the Olympics to cities competing for the honor.
In a 1999 article at the New York Times, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged corruption in the Salt Lake City bidding for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Richard Pound, a lawyer who led the IOC investigation said, “We have found evidence of very disappointing conduct by a number of IOC members. Their conduct has been completely contrary to everything the Olympic movement has worked so hard to represent.” HA! That’s quite funny, in hindsight. Rather than clean up the process, things have just grown worse in the last 15 years.
Sure, the Salt Lake City Olympics scandal triggered reform that was supposed to ban gifts and favors to Olympic committee members, but less than a decade later the Olympics were awarded to Sochi (won the bid in 2007, hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics). This article at Salon.com proclaimed the Sochi Olympics the “most corrupt Olympics ever.”
In the case of the NFL, the process for bidding to host the Super Bowl is not necessarily corrupt; it’s just pure greed. Fat cat NFL owners realize there’s no event bigger than the Super Bowl, so they can demand anything they want from prospective host cities. Is it at all surprising that the billionaire baseball owners want in on this action?
Personally, I like that the baseball All-Star Game gets passed around from city to city. In the past 25 years, 24 different MLB teams have hosted the All-Star game (Pittsburgh hosted the game twice, in two different ballparks). In that same time period, just 14 NFL cities have hosted the Super Bowl, with four cities hosting three or more Super Bowls during that stretch. In the 49-year history of the Super Bowl, the game has been played in Miami and New Orleans ten times each, and another seven times in Los Angeles, meaning more than half of the Super Bowl games have been played in just three cities. Of course, the NFL does prefer to have the game played in warm-weather cities, unless you have a dome (Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Detroit) or you are New York (???). Major League Baseball doesn’t have to worry about the weather for the Midsummer Classic.
We’ll have to see what MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has to say about the “competitive-bidding, Super Bowl-awarding-type mode” he’s considering for the All-Star Game. Will there be a mechanism in place so the same city doesn’t host the game every few years? Will cities without major league baseball get a chance to bid for the game? And just how many top-quality, 18-hole golf courses will MLB owners demand?