Hard to believe, but once upon a time in America the All-Star Game was a one-day affair. There was no State Farm-sponsored Home Run Derby, no Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, no FanFest, live concerts, or celebrity softball games, where ex-Hall-of-Famers flail around the old ballyard with has-been actors.
Best of all, fans didn't vote, the manager of each team didn't give a rat's petunia about getting everyone into the game, and the damn thing was played on Tuesday, in the afternoon, no less. I am not making this up. For years now, the Midsummer Classic has gone deeper and deeper into extra innings, with no end in sight. In fact, Major League Baseball has now come to refer to it as All-Star Week. Can All-Star Month be far behind?
Of course, from a purely economic perspective, stretching out the All-Star festivities is right up there with a walk-off grand slam.
"This is a pretty unique event, what with six days of activities," says Richard Fleming, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association. Fleming estimates that the July 14th game at Busch Stadium, and all the ancillary activites surrounding it, will bring some $60 million into the bi-state region.
But how does any really know how much money something like this will generate? It's all just a ballpark figures right?
"No, we have constructed a model, which is, essentially, based on our experiences with actual events over the years," explains Fleming. "We try and calculate the number of out-of-towners who will come, how many dollars they will spend, the entertainment dollars that will go to restaurant and retail outlets, the indirect impact of that spending in the region. And we factor in local spending and so on. There's something of a science to it all."
Whatever the case, if Fleming's $60 million projection is even close to being on the money, well, that's a lot of money. Consider: Ruth Sergenian, chief economist for the RCGA, said this year's Mardi Gras brought $20 million to the region, based on the same model Fleming spoke of. The NCAA wrestling event was good for $14 million. Last year's BMW golf championship delivered $28 million.
So there you have it. As Garrett Morris as Chico Esculo on Saturday Night Live used to say" "Baseball been berry berry good to me."
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