Cobb County District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott said the Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be good for business.
That business won’t just be in SunTrust Park, The Battery Atlanta and Cumberland area — it’s going to reach all areas of the county.
“This is all about business,” Ott said, after the Braves were awarded the 2021 All-Star Game on Wednesday. “Small business is where all the jobs come from. This is going to be a boon for everyone.”
He points to February as an example when the Super Bowl was played in downtown Atlanta. The Taste of the NFL was at the Cobb Galleria, there were special events at The Battery, including a meet and greet with Chef Paul Wahlberg, and Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field was where many of the dignitaries from around the country landed.
“We saw it with the Super Bowl,” Ott said. “And (Cobb County didn’t) even have the main event. We had 200 planes lined up out there.”
Because of that, he said county organizers have a jump on what they will need to do to prepare for the festivities that could bring more than $70 million to the local economy. According to Major League Baseball, the last five All-Star cities — Washington D.C., Miami, San Diego, Cincinnati and Minneapolis — averaged a gain of $73 million.
While all the money won’t all come to Cobb County, much of it will. Much like the Super Bowl, the All-Star Game will be a five-day celebration of baseball. A key to it will be the Major League Baseball Fan Fest, which will take place at the Cobb Galleria. In 2016, when the game was in San Diego, the attendance at Fan Fest drew nearly 120,000.
Attendance at San Diego’s Petco Park for the three days of events — Sunday’s MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game and the All-Star Futures Game, Monday’s Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s All-Star Game — drew 124,564 fans.
While county businesses, hotels, restaurants and bars should flourish, Major League Baseball also likes to leave something other than dollars behind for the local communities.
Each year, MLB selects a number of local projects and donates $5 million to make them happen as part of the league’s All-Star Legacy Initiative.
Over the last few years, MLB has used the Initiative to refurbished local youth baseball fields and provide upgrades to local Boys and Girls Clubs. In addition, the All-Star Legacy reach has worked to better other areas of need.
In Washington, it constructed a teen room, playground, computer lab and community room at a housing complex that provides affordable housing to 37 families, including more than 100 children. It renovated a 12,000-square-foot USO logistics facility at Fort Belvoir and it developed a mobile dental unit in partnership with Children’s Hospital, which brings dental health professionals to children at 19 locations around DC.
In Miami, the Legacy funding went toward a new mobile optometric unit for the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The unit provides free eye exams and glasses for eligible school children. It also renovated the Military Hospitality Lounge at Miami International Airport.
San Diego saw improvements for OPERATION REBOOT, which helps veterans make the transition back to civilian life, and Cincinnati saw the renovation of the pediatric primary care waiting room at Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Cobb County will also receive one thing with the All-Star Game that will not be able to be measured until well past game time — publicity. The game in Washington was covered by more than 2,500 writers, it was broadcast around the world by 62 television and radio networks across, 185 countries and in 14 languages. If done right, the All-Star Game could have a long, lingering affect. It’s something Ott is already looking forward to, even if most of the datelines still read Atlanta.
“I’d like to see Cobb County,” he said. “Not just Atlanta.”