THE PHILLIES are among the teams that want to host an All-Star Game, but their target is further away than you might think. How about 2026?
After hosting the game in 1976 to mark the country's bicentennial, the Phillies have targeted the sestercentennial, the 250th birthday of the United States.
"We think the Year 2026 is a pretty special time for this city and our country," Phillies president David Montgomery told the Daily News on Wednesday. "We were fortunate enough to host the All-Star Game in 1976. If we were to get in line and get that opportunity a couple years before, it would foreclose the opportunity to host in 2026."
The Phillies have not aggressively pursued to have the game sooner in what has become a competitive process for teams throughout baseball. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig acknowledged last week that he has spoken to Montgomery about bringing the Midsummer Classic to Citizens Bank Park at some point "down the road."
"Fifteen years ago, you couldn't give an All-Star Game away," Selig told the Associated Press Sports Editors. "Now, they are lined up all over the place. We are trying to keep people happy, and it's a tough group to keep happy. Philadelphia is one of the candidates, but there is a long list of candidates."
Montgomery conceded that the Phillies have "taken a bit of a strange approach" by taking a more future-oriented position.
"I've had some discussions with some people in the city about some long-range planning, with people who are already thinking about that milestone," he said.
Montgomery said the Phillies might have been able to get an All-Star Game had they acted more aggressively in advance of the opening of the new ballpark in 2004. Philadelphia last hosted the game in 1996.
"We've had two wonderful All-Star Games at Veterans Stadium," he said. "We are proud of both of them. The city responded very well, and the National League won both games."
The All-Star Game will be in Kansas City this season, a city that has not hosted the game since 1973. Selig promised an announcement "very, very shortly" on sites for 2013 and '14. The 2013 game is expected to be at Citi Field, but has gotten delayed by logistical issues in New York. Baseball typically names a site 2 to 3 years in advance.
Under a revision in the collective bargaining agreement, the All-Star break moves to 4 days this year. The game, which traditionally has been played on a Tuesday, also could moved to a Wednesday in future years.