Sorry, Mr. Met

07.14.13

New York Is Not Really the Best Place for the All-Star Game

When it comes to the All-Star Game, New York does it differently, that's for sure. Don't go looking to Chicago or even Anaheim, California, for a model. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for this year’s events. Sarah Langs on the pros and cons of bringing the Midsummer Classic to the Big Apple.

New York has it all, right? Bright lights, star power, two legendary baseball teams. And now the city is gearing up for the 2013 All-Star Game at the Mets’ home stadium, Citi Field, the first at the baseball park, which opened in 2009. But it turns out New York might not be the best place to hold the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Look at the last four cities: Kansas City, Missouri (2012); Phoenix (2011); Anaheim, California (2010); and St. Louis (2009). New York might not hold up for the Midsummer Classic. A breakdown of the events this weekend and how New York is trying to compensate for its shortcomings.

The Events Are Spread Out All Over the City

Why it’s the worst: The red-carpet show will take place on 42nd Street in Manhattan; the FanFest is at the Javits Center on the far end of Manhattan (and that proposed 7 Line extension isn’t done yet, so it’s a long walk back to Penn Station, the nearest subway stop); the race is in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. And don’t forget, Citi Field is in Queens and has just one subway line running to it and the more expensive but infinitely nicer Long Island Rail Road (via the Port Washington Line, which doesn’t go out to much of Long Island). As for getting from the other boroughs to Flushing via car ... well, there’s always hope there won’t be traffic on the Grand Central Parkway. At least it isn’t en route to the Hamptons, right?

But … It’s giving all the out-towners a real tour of New York and a lot more money for New York’s MTA, which could probably use it. And the LIRR will provide extra trains on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to Citi Field.

But Really, the Events Are All Over the Place

Why it’s the worst: This could mean even more lost, wandering tourists than usual, and makes it a lot harder for a casual fan to be a part of multiple aspects of All-Star Week. The comparable events at the last four All-Star Games were much closer together: the Anaheim Convention Center is 2.6 miles from the ballpark, while the Javits Center is more than 10 miles from Citi Field, and transportation involves a bridge, tunnel, or two subway lines.

But … Actively including three boroughs—Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn—means the pool of people who could attend multiplies. A race in Brooklyn could attract those hipster Brooklynite runners who don’t even want to see a baseball game! Staten Island and the Bronx get some love, too: the proceeds from the 5K and Fun Run will go toward Hurricane Sandy relief, and the Yankees’ Robinson Cano is a Home Run Derby captain—so the team in the Bronx hasn’t been entirely left out of the hosting part of the festivities.

Bonus! The Apples on Parade are spread out all around Manhattan, too. These sculptures all around the city make the vastness almost like a treasure hunt! Apple marks the spot.

The Bright Lights

Why it’s the worst: New York has roughly 8 million more possibilities for distraction than any other city. Ballplayers won’t be as focused on the game if they’ve been out on the town the night before or are thinking about their off-day (and night) plans in New York on Wednesday. You know, those Broadway shows can really break a player’s focus! And remember, the game counts—the winning league will get the home-field advantage in the World Series.

But … That same aura of a big city that makes it a danger for distraction also makes everything related to the game seem bigger, exciting, and more important. That goes a long way toward getting fans interested in and traveling for what is really just an exhibition game with one consequence attached.

Flushing Is Pretty Far From Midtown

Why it’s the worst: The players stay in Midtown, and a lot of out-of-towners probably will, too. (If they’re staying Queens, you better hope you are not stranded at La Guardia over the next five days—the hotels near the airport are a stone’s throw from Citi Field.) But it takes about 40 minutes from Times Square (the center of all tourist life) to Citi Field on the subway.

But … Flushing is a great area to explore—it’s known as the “other Chinatown” of New York. People who don’t usually go out there for Mets games now will be in a great place to try the numerous food options available one stop away on the 7 line. Those baseball tourists deserve some good Korean food. Not to mention, the game is at Citi Field. If it was still Shea Stadium, this list would look a lot different—starting with those pesky rats as “the worst.”

The Shopping

Why it’s the worst: How are the players supposed to prepare for the game when there are all these great stores in the city? Athlete fashion is a real thing these days (remember all the coverage Dwyane Wade’s outfits got during the NBA Finals), and the All-Stars certainly can’t miss out on this opportunity to up their style game, too.

But … On the other hand, some of them have wardrobes that could probably use an upgrade. And if they don’t have the mental fortitude to keep shopping separate from baseball, they probably don’t have the talent to have made the All-Star Game anyway.

The City Is Full of Superstars

Why it’s the worst: When the big group of talented players rolls into a smaller city, they are instantly the most popular and successful people in that area for the few days they’re there. In New York? Not the case. Even with the All-Stars in town, celebrities and famous athletes in other sports live here all the time. All-Stars here for three days? Big whoop.

But … The fact that they’re only in town for a few days makes these players like special-edition collecting cards—get to them quick, or they’ll be gone!

What if the Players Get Lost?

Why it’s the worst: Not every baseball player is from a big city. In fact, a lot are from small towns. They could be just as likely to get lost as the tourists are!

But … These are All-Stars we’re talking about. High-caliber players. And, like it or not, those are exactly the types of players at whom the Yankees like to dangle money, yearly. This means that a ton of these players might end up playing for the Yankees one day. So, they should probably learn their ways around New York.

It Isn’t the Only Sport in Town

Why it’s the worst: The glory days of New York baseball were the 1940s and ’50s, when there were three teams, and all excelled. In recent memory, the Mets were successful as recently as 2006, while the Yankees even won a World Series in 2009. But neither team is exactly dominating this year, and the sport hasn’t taken center stage. The New York Giants won a Super Bowl in 2012, and the Knicks made a playoff run this year. Let’s just say that baseball—even in the summer months—may not be the primary sport on anyone’s minds.

But … That just means only the real fans will venture out. And there’s nothing that gets on a baseball fan’s nerves more than people who don’t get the sport and are sitting there, trying to start the wave. So, let the basketball and football fans keep following their off seasons, and all the baseball fans will be heading to Flushing.