BALTIMORE - Many in the Baltimore tourism and events industry are putting the odds of a 2016 Major League Baseball All Star Game at Camden Yards pretty high, but absolutely no one will go on the record with that comment, which may just make those tea leaves a bit more exciting to read.
"Not only is this a well-kept secret, I am not even sure there is a real formal process. You use the word tea leaves and I think that is what we are looking at right now," said Mike Evitts, with Downtown Partnership Baltimore.
There is no formal process to choosing the location for the All Star Game as it is up to the commissioner of baseball. But when Bud Selig recently said Baltimore is a “very, very viable candidate” to host the 2016 midsummer classic, Charm City began to blush.
"In terms of benefits to the city on a scale of 1-10, I think the All Star game has to be an 11. So not only is it the huge national exposure and the crowds it brings and the positive attention, multiple days of activities it will affect sites well beyond Camden Yards and well throughout downtown," said Evitts.
Should it happen, 2016 wouldn't be the first All Star Game in Baltimore. There was one in 1958 at Memorial Stadium and the last time was 1993 at Camden Yards.
Camden Yards still had that new ball park smell but back then Baltimore's downtown core and Inner Harbor was like an awkward teenager who hadn't grown into themselves yet.
Now, in addition to a facelift to Oriole Park, there is M&T Bank Stadium, a bigger skyline, better and more transportation, hotels, Inner Harbor attractions and soon a casino.
There is also the added storyline of the ball park that set the mold for the modern baseball venue turning 25 and all of it recent statistics show, is now serving a rapidly growing residential population and downtown workforce.
"Major League Baseball coming back it is not just about all the improvements they've made at Camden Yards,” Evitts said. “It is about the improvements to the Orioles as a team and about the perception of Baltimore as a city."
Anirban Basu, of the Sage Policy Group downtown, says an All Star game here in modern day Baltimore would be exponentially more impactful than the last time around.
"It gives Baltimore a chance to tell its new story. It's a better story to tell," Basu said.
Not only would it be a nod to the resurgence of the Oriole franchise, it would drop about $70 million into the local economy.
"The point is, it is an opportunity to generate economic impact when you wouldn't necessarily expect economic impact,” Basu said. “It's a chance for another sell-out and again a lot of the people that will be filling Camden Yards if we are in fact so lucky to get the All Star game will not be from Baltimore, which mean hotel rooms, more spending, more dining out and that is fabulous for retailers, restaurateurs and others.”
Not to mention the national television and social media exposure providing a window into Baltimore's new so-called story line.
A powerful tool to combat what some call ‘The Wire’ effect, showing that through the last 20 plus years Baltimore has grown to be a much more desirable, developed and connected waterfront city.
The All Star Game in Baltimore would also mean the continuation of the increased economic impact these competitive Oriole teams have had in the past two years.
While there is no public study to that effect, anecdotally, downtown businesses are reporting bigger crowds and healthier bottom lines during Oriole home stands.
As far as an announcement on where the 2016 midsummer classic will be, that is up to the commissioner and is anybody's guess.
Many in Baltimore say the big hurdle for charm city to host the game in 2016 is the Washington Nationals who have a new ballpark that has yet to host one.
Still, many we spoke to say the Orioles have been quietly making the case to major league baseball that charm city is due for the return of the event.