To be all-stars, welcome all fans

Kansas City and Jackson County are on deck. When the final out was recorded at last year’s Major League Baseball All Star Game in Phoenix, the torch was officially passed to our community for this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.

When it comes to baseball, Kansas City is home to more than the 2012 All-Star Game. In 1920, the Negro National League was formed in Kansas City at the Paseo YMCA. Sixty-seven years ago, a Kansas City Monarch by the name of Jackie Robinson broke the major league baseball color barrier. In 1961, a former Kansas City Athletic, Roger Maris, broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. From Steve Busby’s two no-hitters in 1973 and 1974 to the glorious defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series to the young stars of this year’s edition of the Royals, Kansas City is baseball’s hometown, and we look forward to welcoming major league baseball home with the 2012 All-Star Game.

As members of the traveling delegation that attended last year’s game in Arizona, we were able to witness firsthand what this event means to a metropolitan area. This is about more than one summer evening in July. It is a series of events culminating in one of the great traditions in American sports. More importantly, it is about creating a legacy for our community when the game concludes.

That means before the first pitch is thrown on July 10, there is still much work that needs to be done. Fans of every background will come here to see baseball’s biggest stars. The 2012 All-Star Game represents an opportunity to showcase to the world what is great about our community.

The list of assets that make us great includes more than our beautiful ballpark and great baseball fans. Visitors will also have the chance to sample our world-famous barbecue, shop on the Country Club Plaza, experience the Power & Light District and enjoy our diverse arts scene, our beautiful county parks, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, our world-class urban venues, one-of-a-kind museums, and people who are warm, friendly and talented. Even our citizens who are not baseball fans will see the positive effect through an estimated economic boom of nearly $60 million.

Landing this particular All-Star Game is a major victory in the continued revitalization of our metropolitan area. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, arguably the most famous ballpark in the world. Many on the outside thought that Boston would be the inevitable choice for this year’s game. The selection of Kansas City confirms what we already knew. This community can attract and host the most premier events in the world because we are a first-class city.

Successfully hosting an event like the All-Star Game takes a coordinated effort. That is why so many entities, including community organizations, business leaders and representatives of every branch of government, are working hard to put our best foot forward.

There are many who share in the credit for making this opportunity possible. This includes David Glass and the entire Kansas City Royals organization. The taxpayers of Jackson County deserve special recognition and should take great pride in hosting this event. Because of their supporting votes in April 2006, Kauffman Stadium looks better than ever and stays atop the list of best places to watch a game in all of major league baseball.

Now it is time to back up our promises with actions and a good dose of Midwest hospitality. All of us need to take a role in showing the rest of the world why it is great to be a Kansas Citian. We know our community will make the most of the All-Star spotlight and exceed expectations by showcasing our passion, diversity and hospitality. It is our time to show the world that we are truly major league.