When it comes to hosting the All-Star Game, Wrigley Field has effectively become what Los Angeles used to be for the NFL. For several years prior to the Rams and Chargers moving (back) to the City of Angels, keeping the city devoid of a team allowed other owners to threaten to move in order to get big tax breaks and/or public funding for new stadiums in their current cities. In similar fashion, Wrigley keeps being mentioned as a possible host for the Midsummer Classic only to see other cities land the event.
This goes all the way back to 2016, when the presumption was that the Cubs would be prioritized following the completion of the 1060 Project in 2018.
“It makes sense the Cubs get an opportunity ahead after the new renovations are complete,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told Bruce Levine at the time. “This will provide the Cubs and Ricketts family a chance to showcase the unbelievable renovation they are in the midst of doing for Wrigley Field.”
We’re now four years past that point and it’ll be at least two more years before the ASG returns to Chicago because it’ll be in Arlington in 2024. The 2026 game is already set for Philadelphia, leaving 2025 wide open. But The Cubs aren’t the only ones in the running, as Manfred recently said Baltimore, Toronto, Boston, and Atlanta are all in the mix as MLB looks “get back to places where we haven’t been in a really long time.” For what it’s worth, Wrigley has waited the longest out of that group.
Toronto hosted in 1991, the year after Wrigley had it, and Baltimore played host to Ken Griffey Jr’s epic performance in the first-ever live broadcast of the Home Run Derby. Boston saw Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire square off in the Derby and then watched as Ted Williams came out on a golf cart 24 years ago, then Atlanta was the site of the following year’s contest.
You may recall that Atlanta was the scheduled host of the ’21 ASG before the league relocated it to Denver following Georgia’s passage of new voting legislation. Between that and the league preferring to promote newer ballparks, it feels like Truist Park has a leg up. If the league decides to kick that can down the road, Wrigley should be the clear frontrunner among a group that hasn’t really changed since November of last year with the possible exception of Boston.
Why, then, is this thing dragging out? All the changes since 1990, including the new sportsbook, effectively make it a completely new venue. I do wonder whether the league was just waiting on Tom Ricketts to finish up his latest project before making any firm announcements. It makes too much sense for the game to come back to the North Side soon, though I can also see why the league might like to go in a different direction.