After thrusting themselves into the limelight and making the 2016 MLB World Series rather handily, the Indians have garnered the attention of passionate baseball fans across the country.
Simply put, Cleveland is back on the sports map.
Commissioner Rob Manfred raved about city's undying commitment toward their baseball team in a Friday morning press conference that confirmed the Progressive Field location for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game.
“Last year’s World Series was a great illustration of the rich baseball history in Cleveland," said Manfred to a group of assembled media. "We are delighted that the 2019 All-Star Game will be in Cleveland with the Indians’ loyal fans during an exciting time for the franchise."
2019 will be the 90th edition of the Midsummer Classic and its sixth appearance at Cleveland Municipal Stadium (1935, 1954, 1963, 1981), Jacobs Field (1997) and Progressive Field (2019). No other major league organization has hosted the All-Star Game as many times as Cleveland.
“On behalf of the Indians organization, we are truly honored and thankful to Major League Baseball for being awarded the 2019 All-Star Week festivities,” Indians Owner Paul Dolan said at the conference. “This is a very exciting time for our city and organization. We have had tremendous excitement coming off our American League Championship and historic World Series appearance. This announcement will only build on that heightened profile and momentum.”
Coupled with the Tribe's recent World Series run was the unprecedented signing of first base slugger Edwin Encarnacion ($60-million with $25-million option), the largest free agent acquisition in the history of the storied franchise since Travis Hafner ($57-million) and Nick Swisher ($56-million).
With renovations to the ballpark's local bars and eateries, drink rails and Home Plate Club, Progressive Field seems to be an ideal location amid a buzzing sports town.
“2019 will mark the 25th anniversary of our ballpark, a timeframe where generations of our fans have experienced tremendous memories," said Dolan. "With significant renovations over the last two years, our ballpark truly is a crowned jewel in the sports industry. We look forward to putting on a great show for Major League Baseball and fans all around the world.”
The Miami Marlins (2017) and Washington Nationals (2018) are slated for the next two contests before Progressive Field houses the Futures Game, Home Run Derby, Celebrity Softball Game and the 2019 All-Star Game itself as part of the memorable weekend festivities.
"I'm vaguely aware they play other sports here, but we were here in October for the World Series," Manfred said. "Cleveland is a baseball town."
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.