The MLB All-Star Game brings fortune and fame to its host city, and is a highly sought after honor. The financial impact is also felt throughout North America, along with much-needed interest in baseball to younger audiences. Direct business impact in Cleveland was estimated at $65 million, according to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, in a city that improved from over $3.5 billion in private and public investments since 2011 (per Destination Cleveland).
Having perfect weather during the week’s festivities certainly helped. 149,513 attended the “Play Ball Park” – the most in ten years – which featured attractions promoting baseball from the Negro Leagues to the future of Virtual Reality.
The games themselves were well attended in person: the All-Star Celebrity Softball game and Futures Game (34,386), T-Mobile Home Run Derby (over 36,000), and All-Star Game by Mastercard (36,747). The global reach was much larger, which will result in residual advertising dollars, and baseball affinity for fans young and old. According to MLB there were 24 million viewers of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and All-Star Game hosted by Mastercard, 78 million combined Instagram followers of the Celebrity Softball players, and an impressive 729,347 fans took the time to fill out Home Run Derby brackets.
Little League® Baseball got a big boost from the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, who donated an all-time high of $624K. Their pledge was to donate $1K for each home run hit during the Derby, plus $5K for special Magenta balls in the bonus period. Vladimir Guerrero Jr broke the all-time record of 91 home runs (and a record 29 in the first round), but was topped in the final round by the Met’s Alonso 23-to-22.
Pete Alonso, the Derby winner, told Forbes his impressions of the impact of funding Little League: It all starts with the foundation and having a good positive experience during Little League is everything. It’s crucial for all baseball players to go through a very productive Little League.
Shaquille O’Neal has been one of the most successful athletes financially after retiring from his Hall of Fame NBA career. He is estimated to be worth over $400 million, with much of that coming from smart tech investments from pre-IPO Google to Ring, which Amazon recently acquired for over a billion dollars. He is a proud owner of the Sacramento Kings, telling Forbes how they use cutting edge technology for e-tickets and in-seat food ordering. He also is a Platinum rapper, who peaked at #25 on the Billboard charts.
Shaq applied his two passions – sports and music – to host the “Derby after Dark” party and help the All-Star Home Run Derby’s main sponsor, T-Mobile, as they donated a record $624K to support Little League Baseball. Shaq told Forbes: There’s two things that always bring people together – that’s sports and music. So anything for the kids I’m always involved. I was a participant in Little League when I was young. I see a lot of baseball fields going up. Baseball is still probably America’s Pastime along with football and basketball… I was first base.
Travis Kelce expressed his excitement for his hometown city of Cleveland, telling Forbes: We gotta support the Little Leagues, man! I grew up on Little League… Little League sports are the best. It’s where it all starts for us kids. We’d see these superheroes as young athletes, and in the pro sports. We try to do what they do on a smaller scale. That’s the coolest thing about the All-Star Game being back in Cleveland now is that I was literally a little kid at 8 years old at the prime of my childhood watching guys like Sandy Alomar play in the All-Star Game for the Cleveland Indians.
The Cleveland Indians fan favorite, Francisco Lindor, added how he switched positions playing Little League until he found his comfort: They are our future – we were all little, at one point we all had dreams and we can help them with a couple of their dreams the world would be a much better place. I played everywhere – I started out at center fielder, then went behind the plate, then went to shortstop and said “I’m good here!”
For the years leading up to the All-Star Game, Cleveland invested significantly, according to Destination Cleveland. Since 2011, there was over $3.5 billion in private and public investments. The lakefront area where the T-Mobile Derby After Dark took place, Flats East Bank, had a $750 million facelift. Downtown had a $50 million investment to improve walkability.
Overall, Cleveland opened the Red Carpet to the world for baseball, and in a way won their own Home Run Derby.
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