The All-Star torch was passed from the Twins to the Reds the day after the Midsummer Classic in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago, and this week, the focus shifts to Cincinnati in earnest.
Major League Baseball and the Reds will hold a news conference today at 10 a.m. ET at Great American Ball Park, where they will unveil the official 2015 All-Star logo. The news conference will be streamed live on Reds.com and MLB.com.
Among the dignitaries expected to attend the media event are Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini, MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commission president Chris Monzel, in addition to other local city leaders.
This is a symbolic event designed to jump-start anticipation for the 86th All-Star Game, the first in the Queen City since 1988. Although All-Star Week is 11 months away, planning for the event began about a year and a half ago, around the time the Reds were officially awarded the game.
Things have changed since the Reds last hosted the All-Star Game 26 years ago, when they played at Riverfront Stadium. Whereas in the old days, teams were awarded the privilege to host based on somewhat of a rotating basis, in more modern times, clubs are often given All-Star Game hosting duties after they open new ballparks.
GABP has been around a while, but it's never looked better. Castellini and his investor group that purchased the club in 2006 gave the downtown ballpark a refreshing facelift, adding more attractions on the concourses, and a riverboat-styled deck was installed over the batters' eye in center field. Before next season, Castellini said, there will be more cosmetic improvements and full renovations of some of the lower-level concession stands and a refurbished Riverfront Club.
The area around the ballpark has also boomed in recent years. The Banks district just outside of GABP boasts an impressive alley of bars and restaurants, in addition to the Smale Riverfront Park, which will be completed soon.
Up the road, a redesigned and more vibrant Fountain Square has given the downtown area a more festive flavor, as has a redeveloped and eclectic Over-The-Rhine neighborhood.
To prepare for next year, a large contingent of the Reds' front-office staff traveled to Minneapolis to observe how their predecessors ran the All-Star events.
The group included representatives from the ticketing department, corporate sales, media relations, security, ballpark operations and clubhouse personnel, all of whom watched closely and took plenty of notes.
Beginning Wednesday, there are no more torches to pass. The attention will shift in full to Cincinnati and the Reds, who will undoubtedly be ready when the baseball world descends upon the Queen City next July.