More information is out about the 2017 California League All-Star Game, including the reason the Visalia Rawhide were selected to host and why the circuit is ending its partnership with the Carolina League. In the aftermath of the Rawhide being selected, league president Charlie Blaney says that ballpark improvements helped the team land the game.
Before the 2009 season, Recreation Park underwent an extensive overhaul that included renovations to the seating, improved lighting and concessions, the addition of the Hall of Fame Club, more. In the time since, the Rawhide have sustained a significant spike in attendance.
Ballpark upgrades often put teams in a position to host events such as All-Star Games, so that the transformation to Recreation Park led to the game is not a complete surprise. Yet, Blaney said he is continually impressed by how the upgrades have changed atmosphere at Recreation Park. More from the Visalia Times-Delta:
“They do a marvelous job of running the team,” he said. “Fans are setting new attendance records.”
Already, Blaney has visited Visalia three times this year. The most recent visit was when the Rawhide celebrated 70 years of professional baseball in Visalia. Blaney said he’s making a return visit this weekend.
For the All-Star game, the host team has the freedom to put on events showcasing California League baseball and other aspects of the city, Blaney said.
And based on the way the Rawhide is run, Blaney said he is expecting a great game in Visalia.
“They will put on a tremendous show,” he said.
Speaking of next year’s California League All-Star Game, one of its notable elements is that it will mark the first time since 1998 that the circuit will not face the Carolina League in the mid-summer classic. With the Carolina League’s event set to be hosted by the Salem Red Sox, league president John Hopkins said the decision to end the Carolina/California League format was ultimately about logistics. More from the News & Advance:
Carolina League president John Hopkins said it was his league’s owners that voted to end the arrangement. Hopkins cited “the challenging logistics, the additional expenses in having a bicoastal affair [and] the fact that any given Carolina League team would have twice the number of opportunities to host” as rationale.
“There’s a part of me — a large part — that’s going to miss [the interleague game] … but it’s time to move on,” Hopkins said, noting that the series was split at nine wins apiece, with two ties. “… I don’t know that it was dissatisfaction with the California League format rather than a longing for an intraleague event.”
Both games will take place on June 20, 2017.