Cincinnati is hosting Major League Baseball's All-Star Game this month, and there's an enormous effort to make the region look as good as possible. Millions of tourist dollars are at stake; and it's an opportunity the Reds, Cincinnati, and the region may not have again for a while.
Tens of thousands of visitors are expected in Cincinnati for the All-Star Game, and millions more are likely to watch the game and festivities on TV. So there's a sense of urgency to make sure the Tri-State looks as good as possible.
The Community Organizing Committee has instituted many of the visual cues around the area, like the wrapping of the Scripps Building to look like Reds' mascot, Mr. Redlegs, the projected Red Stocking player on Carew Tower, and 20 mustache-shaped benches.
Cincinnati Parks crews have planted flowers in the shape of the All-Star logo in Smale Riverfront Park, and contractors have been racing to finish building the rest of the park in time for the rush of visitors.
Julie Calvert with the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau says the hope is those who come for the home run derby, the game and everything else will want to return; and TV viewers will see Cincinnati and think "that looks like a good place for a vacation".
“We want people to come here, just get a taste of what we have and certainly, absolutely come back," Calvert says. "And there’s a lot of effort and campaigns that are out there now to do just that."
Calvert, city leaders, and the Community Organizing Committee went to Minneapolis, last year's All-Star host city, but it wasn't to see the game.
“Minneapolis is a great city for us to go to, to learn about the event, how it operates, the flow, both from an outside marketing perspective, and how you engage your residents,” she says.
Minneapolis started a twitter campaign, and put out statues to be more appealing, and Cincinnati has copied and adjusted ideas like those for the local market.
Kristen Montag is Communication and PR Manager for Meet Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says they believe a lot of people who attended All-Star weekend were in Minneapolis for the first time, and they believe those people did more than just watch the game.
“We know that our restaurants were busy," Montag says. "We know our hotels were nearly full. There were definitely other opportunities for people to get out and see more of the city than just the All-Star stuff that was going on, because there were obviously periods of time where they didn’t have a specific event that they had to attend.”
And there's the problem with tracking tourism: Montag says it's hard to tell for sure who is going where, and why. But she's confident once people saw Minneapolis, they'd want to see it again.
“I wish I had something real conclusive that I could show you shows that people do return,” Montag says. “It’s all anecdotal at this point, but I do think that once your city has a big event like that, it’s a selling point; and it’s an awareness builder at the very least.”
Cincinnati's leaders are counting on that.
Julie Calvert is patient. She says the attention Cincinnati will get is about more than just looking good for one weekend.
“This is about really Cincinnati’s showing off our revitalization that’s happened over the past several years in Downtown and across the region," Calvert says. “Sure, we’re going to have the eyes of the world again on Cincinnati for a concentrated period of time, but this is a much bigger play.”
All-Star Weekend is July 10th through the 14th.