An announcement is expected next week that SunTrust Park will host the MLB All-Star game in 2021.
“We continue to feel really good about it, and we expect there will be an announcement at some point in time soon,” Braves president and CEO Derek Schiller said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday.
Schiller declined to comment further Friday, but this could be the timing: The Braves are planning an “All-Star Celebration” featuring many of their former All-Star players, including Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Phil Niekro and others, at SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta before Wednesday’s game against the Washington Nationals.
The Braves long have been working on a bid to host the All-Star game in their new stadium. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told the AJC late last year that SunTrust Park is "certainly a candidate for 2021."
Manfred said at the time that there is much competition to host All-Star games, but he went on to extensively praise the Braves’ stadium.
“I think SunTrust Park has literally revolutionized the process of stadium development,” Manfred said. “They really did get it right here.”
The MLB All-Star game has been played in Atlanta twice — in 1972 at Atlanta Stadium (later called Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium) and in 2000 at Turner Field.
The Braves previously submitted a bid to host the 2020 All-Star game, which instead was awarded early last year to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. But even as the Braves pursued the 2020 game, they also made it known to MLB that they were interested in the 2021 game, which they viewed as probably a better fit on Atlanta’s sports calendar.
It would mark the fourth consecutive year that a sports mega-event comes to metro Atlanta, following three such events at Mercedes-Benz Stadium: the College Football Playoff national championship game in January 2018, the Super Bowl in February 2019 and the college basketball Final Four in April 2020. Mercedes-Benz Stadium also hosted last year’s MLS All-Star game and MLS Cup final.
This year’s MLB All-Star game will be played at the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field on July 9.
By the time the 2021 All-Star game is played, SunTrust Park will be renamed. SunTrust Bank's pending merger with BB&T, announced earlier this year, will result in a new name for the combined banks, the companies have said. That will lead to a new name for the Braves stadium, although the 25-year naming-rights contract will remain in place.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com