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Rick Snider: District is deserving host

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Photo - Greg Fiume/Getty Images
The Nationals are on pace for 2.4 million in attendance this season, having averaged 29,677 fans per game at Nationals Park.
Greg Fiume/Getty Images The Nationals are on pace for 2.4 million in attendance this season, having averaged 29,677 fans per game at Nationals Park.
Sports,MLB,Nationals,Rick Snider

What has Washington done to deserve a major league kiss-off by Bud Selig?

The Major League Baseball commissioner treats the nation's capital like some small-market outpost like Kansas City. Oh wait, the Royals are hosting Tuesday's All-Star Game.

First, MLB protected Baltimore by keeping baseball from Washington while expanding to smaller markets like Denver and Tampa. Then, Selig forced Washington into spending $600 million on a stadium in return for a failing Montreal Expos team that no one else wanted. Finally, Selig let competing owners strip the franchise of all its talent before relocating so the Nationals needed eight seasons to become a contender.

Meanwhile, Selig urges the city to create a waterfront entertainment complex that would look awfully nice outside the All-Star Game. Admittedly, it's a great idea for many generations of Washingtonians to enjoy. The waterfront project is finally starting after the cement plant alongside South Capitol St. was finally exiled.

And still no All-Star Game is slated for Washington.

The Navy Yard area around the stadium saw buildings demolished to make way for commercial and residential high rises to transform a red light/industrial area into the city's hot spot for growth.

But they're not coming to any All-Star Game for years.

What will it take for Selig to fulfill his pledge for the Midsummer Classic to return to Washington after 43 years and counting?

The game came to Washington in 1962 -- one year after D.C. Stadium opened -- and again in 1969. Griffith Stadium also hosted the game in 1937 and 1956.

But extended All-Star activities that run from Friday to Tuesday worth $67 million last year to host Phoenix aren't coming to Washington soon. New York hosts next year with an American League team slated for 2014. Then again, Chicago's Wrigley Field turns 100 that year so baseball may go two years with National League sites and then 2015-16 for AL cities.

Washington is bidding for the 2015 game along with Miami and Cincinnati, but it could be 2017 -- 10 seasons after Nationals Park opened.

And they say the federal government moves slowly.

Selig can't badmouth Washington for poor attendance anymore. The Nationals are showing fans support a winning team. The current 29,677 per game average projects to 2.4 million over the season, nearly 500,000 more than last year.

Washington has well supported even the Nats' terrible teams. After a record 2.73 million during the 2005 inaugural season, Washington followed with 2.15 million in 2006 and 1.96 million in 2007 before leaving RFK Stadium. The Nats drew 2.32 million at the new ballpark in 2008, then 1.81 million and 1.82 million for 100-loss teams.

Washington has overcome every barrier Selig presented with a public-financed stadium, rejuvenated neighborhood, solid attendance and coming waterfront complex. Yet, the All-Star Game remains a fantasy contest.

There's something foul about this.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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