Game was last in SF in '84
SAN FRANCISCO -- Fans have packed San Francisco's beautiful waterfront ballpark since it opened to catch a glimpse of Barry Bonds.
The Giants hope that the lure of the All-Star game will help persuade those fans to keep their season tickets in 2007, the year after Bonds' contract expires.
Commissioner Bud Selig announced Wednesday that the All-Star game will return to San Francisco in 2007, marking the fifth time the Giants have hosted the midsummer classic.
"Every year it gets more difficult to pick. But 2007 was easy," Selig said. "This great city deserves this game. It's the thing to do."
Selig made the announcement at Willie Mays Plaza outside SBC Park. Mays, who played in a record-tying 24 All-Star games, said he was glad the city would get the opportunity to showcase its stadium.
"I wish I had a chance to play here," he said. "I think I would have hit a little bit more home runs than Barry."
Bonds, who passed his godfather on the career home run list last season and has 703 overall, is under contract through 2006. Tickets for the All-Star game could be an incentive to help the team keep its season-ticket holder base of about 28,000 fans for 2007.
"I don't know if we can go up any higher than we are," owner Peter Magowan said. "We're at the ceiling of what we're allowed to have. This is an incentive to try to retain the position that we have."
Magowan said the Giants had been trying to bring the All-Star game to San Francisco since the park opened in 2000 and it's just a coincidence that they succeeded for what could be their first year without Bonds.
"When we built the ballpark, a principle goal was to attract the All-Star game back to San Francisco," Magowan said. "All-Star weekend and the game have proven to be baseball's showcase event."
The club has topped 3 million in attendance all five seasons since the ballpark opened -- thanks in large part to Bonds' popularity.
It is uncertain if the league that wins the All-Star game in 2007 will get home-field advantage in the World Series that year. Selig said he is negotiating with the players' association to extend the two-year experiment that was put in place in 2003.
This will be the city's first time staging baseball's midsummer classic since it was at windy Candlestick Park in 1984. The NL won that game 3-1 behind MVP Gary Carter's home run.
"It was awful," Magowan said of the wind. "It was everything you could say was bad about Candlestick that day."
Wind also played prominently in San Francisco's first All-Star game. In the first of two All-Star games in 1961, Giants pitcher Stu Miller was blown off the mound in the ninth inning, leading to a game-tying balk. The NL won 5-4 in 11 innings when Mays scored the winning run on a single by Roberto Clemente.
This will be the first time in more than 40 years that the All-Star game won't alternate between the American and National Leagues. Detroit hosts this summer's game, then Pittsburgh has the 2006 event -- meaning the NL will host two straight games.
"We will try to alternate as much as possible," Selig said. "We do love using the All-Star game as a showcase for our new venues."
Mayor Gavin Newsom, who also attended the news conference, said he thought All-Star weekend would bring about 250,000 people to the city and could have a financial impact of more than $80 million for San Francisco.
"This is a big deal in terms of the identity and branding of San Francisco," Newsom said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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