MLB commissioner: SunTrust Park a candidate for 2021 All-Star game

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media Thursday following the MLB owners’ fall meetings at the Omni hotel next to SunTrust Park.

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Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media Thursday following the MLB owners’ fall meetings at the Omni hotel next to SunTrust Park.

SunTrust Park is a contender to host Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in 2021, with a decision on the site to be made early next year, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday.

In response to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the close of the baseball owners’ two-day meeting at the Omni Hotel overlooking the Braves’ stadium, Manfred said MLB is “fortunate right now to have really high demand for All-Star games.” But he went on to extensively praise SunTrust Park and the surrounding mixed-use development.

“I think SunTrust Park has literally revolutionized the process of stadium development,” Manfred said. “They really did get it right here.”

Manfred said baseball is “going to have a very competitive list” of cities seeking the 2021 All-Star game. He added that “it would be fair to say” SunTrust Park is on that list, “certainly a candidate for 2021.”

“We’re far enough along in that process that by early in 2019 we ought to be able to make a decision,” he said.

At least several other teams also are believed to have strong interest in hosting the event, including the Chicago Cubs, who want to bring an All-Star game to Wrigley Field for the first time since 1990.

The event has been played in Atlanta twice -- in 1972 at then-Atlanta Stadium and in 2000 at Turner Field.

Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said Thursday he has “high hopes” of landing the 2021 event, “given the effort we have made.”

“(Manfred) has not made the decision yet, and I think we’ve made an excellent presentation,” McGuirk said. “We just have to await all of the evaluations of other applications also.

“I think we’ve got a lot of really strong elements here as to why it should happen.”

The Braves previously submitted a bid to host the 2020 All-Star game, which was awarded in April 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 for Atlanta’s sports schedule.

If SunTrust Park lands that game, 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 earlier this year, the Super Bowl early next year and the college basketball Final Four in April 2020.

The All-Star game wasn’t on the agenda at the owners’ meetings here this week. But the meetings, which drew owners and top executives from all 30 MLB teams, gave the Braves an opportunity to show off the stadium and The Battery Atlanta.

“This was a huge amount of pride for us to host the other 29 owners in our home,” McGuirk said. “Most of the owners had not been here. Their jaws dropped open, and they were incredibly complimentary. ... We did tours of the ballpark and tours of The Battery and went to any depth anybody wanted to do.”

In action taken during the meetings, the owners voted to extend Manfred's contract through the 2024 regular season, approved an extension of MLB's television deal with Fox through the 2028 season and agreed to a three-year contract with subscription video streaming service DAZN for live cut-ins of games.