ATLANTA (AP) — Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-Star Game will be played at Atlanta in what could be the first national showcase for SunTrust Park since the stadium opened in 2017.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement before the Braves played the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
“The facility here, including SunTrust stadium and the Battery, is the best in baseball,” Manfred said.
The Braves are the landlord for restaurants, bars, a concert venue, a hotel, apartments and office buildings in the Battery mixed-use development.
Manfred was joined by some of the Braves’ most prominent former players, a group that included Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Phil Niekro, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.
Also attending the announcement were Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The All-Star Game will join a recent string of major sports events in Atlanta, including the MLS Cup, college football championship and this year’s Super Bowl. The 2020 Final Four also will be in Atlanta.
“The Super Bowl got raves,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I think this will. I mean, it’s just an unbelievable venue to have the game’s best out here playing.”
This will be the third All-Star Game in Atlanta. The 1972 game was played at a ballpark best known as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The 2000 game was at Turner Field, the former 1996 Olympic Stadium that was the Braves’ home from 1997-2016.
“It’s about time that we’re back,” Manfred said.
Jones recalled his pride in playing in the 2000 game.
“In 2000 I was one of the chosen lucky few to be able to run out on my home baseball field and to be able to represent my team and my league in the All-Star Game,” Jones said
The Braves’ move to the suburban SunTrust Park in Cobb County drew criticism from some fans accustomed to the team’s downtown location since 1966. Braves chairman Terry McGuirk noted All-Star week events will include such downtown sites as Centennial Park.
“I think I’m most proud how this event will show how unified the city of Atlanta is,” McGuirk said.
The National League will be host six times in seven years. This year’s All-Star Game is July 9 at Cleveland’s Progressive Field and next year’s game is at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The Braves made an unsuccessful bid for the 2020 game. At the time, the Braves also expressed their interest in 2021.