After trip to KC, Mets turn focus to 2013 All-Star Game

After trip to KC, Mets turn focus to 2013 All-Star Game

After trip to KC, Mets turn focus to 2013 All-Star Game
KANSAS CITY -- More than two dozen members of the Mets' front office descended upon Kauffman Stadium this week, touring the facilities and meeting their counterparts from the Royals' front office. Groundskeepers met groundskeepers. Operations managers met operations managers. Public relations gurus met public relations gurus, and so on and so forth.

In that fashion, the Mets gained an intimate understanding of exactly what goes into hosting an All-Star Game. Now that Kansas City has had its time in baseball's Midsummer Classic limelight, the Mets have begun preparing in earnest for the 2013 game at Citi Field.

"It's a great moment for the fans and the franchise," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. "Major League Baseball does such a good job of coordinating all this, and they do it every year. We don't do it every year. That's why our people are here to watch what they do."

The entire group of Mets executives took a guided tour of Kauffman Stadium and its surrounding grounds before Tuesday's game, scribbling down notes on the details required to host it.

Help will come from other avenues as well; though the Mets have not hosted an All-Star Game since 1964, their first season at Shea Stadium, the Yankees held one in the Bronx as recently as 2008. When coordinating with the city of New York on issues ranging from public transportation to ancillary events around the five boroughs, the Mets should be able to draw pieces from that infrastructure.

But so much of next year's All-Star week will be unique to Queens, beginning with the site itself. As Wilpon noted, the Mets are most excited simply to "showcase our ballpark."

"Our ballpark works pretty good," Wilpon said. "When we fill it up, it works really good."

Citi Field opened in 2009 to considerable fanfare, encompassing 1.2 million square feet and holding up to 41,922 fans at maximum capacity -- including space in 54 luxury boxes and six clubs and restaurants. It stands within steps of the Citi Field-Willets Point stop on the subway's elevated No. 7 line, and has garnered rave reviews for its sightlines, atmosphere and concessions.

"I'm very confident that Citi Field will be able to accommodate, because we designed it with this type of major event in mind," Mets vice president of business operations Dave Howard said. "We built in a lot of the infrastructure."

But because the Mets have not made the playoffs since 2006, the team has had little opportunity to showcase its new home.

"We're very excited about that and we're confident it will make a very favorable impression, because it is as good a baseball facility as there is in the game," Howard said. "We've taken a lot of time and effort to design it and operate it in a first-class way, and we're excited about this opportunity -- though we're hoping we'll have a little postseason opportunity this year, as well."

The Mets will not receive any direct monetary benefit from the event, with Major League Baseball reaping all revenues from the game itself. But in addition to bringing the franchise prestige and boosting the local economy, the lure of All-Star week will allow the Mets to sell season-ticket packages and acquire additional sponsors.

"This is MLB's event," Howard said. "Obviously we will be coordinating and working with them very closely. We operate the building, but this is a partnership with them, and in many respects we're operating under their direction. So it's been great to be out here and observe and get a sense of the scale of the undertaking."

Howard, who spent three days in Kansas City attending meetings, All-Star events and "trying to experience as many elements of this" as possible, was one of several front office members who gushed in particular about the Home Run Derby. Citi Field does seem suited for such an event, particularly for left-handed sluggers to aim for the Pepsi Porch in right field and Shea Bridge in right-center.

So like many around baseball, the Mets took notice when Kauffman Stadium's local fans booed Yankees slugger Robinson Cano on Monday, after Cano declined to select Royals All-Star Billy Butler for the Derby.

Asked what he learned in Kansas City this week, Howard laughed.

"I've learned that it's very advisable to make sure that a hometown player is given an opportunity to be in the Home Run Derby," he said.

The Mets will not have a say in that, of course, even if MLB decides to change the rules before next year's Derby. But they will have input in many other aspects of the week and the game.

"We're really most excited about the opportunity to showcase Citi Field," Howard said, "to show the baseball industry and the world what a first-class, world-class facility it is."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.