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Published: Sunday, 6/30/2002

International League notebook: All-Stars in Toledo? Try 2006

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Tigers are reportedly trying to bring the 2005 major league All-Star Game to Detroit. Wouldn't it be great to bring the Triple-A All-Star Game to Toledo that same year?

Think about it: After the major league administrators and media leave the Motor City following the Tuesday night game, why not offer an opportunity to drive just 60 miles to see the top Triple-A players the next night?

Hens general manager Joe Napoli admitted the thought of hosting the all-stars in the same season the Tigers are hosting has crossed his mind.

“On one hand, yes, taking the visitors who come to Detroit and bringing them here would be appealing,” he said. “But - and this is a big but - there's more to a Triple-A All-Star Game than just the game itself. There are parties, autograph sessions, and a home run derby, too.

“The purpose of bringing that game to Toledo would be to show representatives from other communities what Toledo has to offer. We'd like to create three nights of business for Toledo restaurants, hotels and taverns, not one, so our preference would be to separate our All-Star Game from the major league one.”

The games for the coming three seasons already have been promised to other cities, and the 2005 game probably will be hosted by a Pacific Coast League team. That would point to bringing the Triple-A All-Star Game to Toledo in 2006.

“We've already started the process [of winning the bid for 2006],” Napoli said. “We've met with [IL president] Randy Mobley and let him know of our strong desire to host the game that year.”

Who might provide the competition for 2006? The IL has a gentlemen's agreement that teams will not bid on a second all-star game until every team that wishes to host one has done so. That will limit the choices to Charlotte, Durham, Ottawa, Syracuse and the Hens, with Durham and Syracuse being the other most appealing alternatives.

What will it take to get the bid? Napoli will get the ball rolling by leading a group of Mud Hens officials to this year's game, which will be played in Oklahoma City, Okla., on July 10. There the Hens plan to make other clubs aware of Toledo's interest in the 2006 game.

The next step would be to make a formal presentation at this year's Winter Meetings, where currently only the 2005 game is on the agenda.



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