Over the last 50 days, the city of Cleveland saw stars, knocked groggy with the prospect of losing between $5.8 million and $8.6 million in revenue because a baseball game was canceled.
Now, with a settlement reached and the baseball strike over, Cleveland finally will see the stars it had been promised. For the pains and worries this city has endured, it seems only just compensation.
It was announced early today as part of the strike settlement that the major league All-Star Game will be played in Municipal Stadium Sunday night, Aug. 9. The All-Star Game originally had been scheduled for July 14, but was postponed because of the strike.
There hasn't been this kind of relief in this part of Ohio since Mark Hanna led William McKinley into office.
"The city should be able to generate about $5 million in revenue from the (Aug. 9) game, with everything considered. We have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time," said Virginia Felderman, an official at Cleveland's Growth Association, which did the financial surveys that detailed what the game's loss would mean to the city.
"We managed to put together the presidential debate last October in just 10 days. We raised a lot of money and it helped our national image. We hope the same will happen with the All-Star Game," Felderman said.
Next weekend, it turns out, Cleveland will become America's sports capital. On Saturday night, the Cleveland Browns will host an exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and on Sunday afternoon there will be the Roberto Duran-Nino Gonzalez fight and, now, there will be the All-Star Game.
"Once I heard, I was in the office this morning at 8:15 -- in my uniform," said Cleveland Manager Dave Garcia."I was supposed to spend today with my mother-in-law and my wife. You bet I'm ready to get this going."
"I'm elated. I kind of had a feeling last (Thursday) night that we might be close when the negotiators were meeting around the clock," said Indians' pitcher Bert Blyleven, who carried on an informal workout today with infielders Duane Kuiper, Jerry Dybzinski and Mike Hargrove. Major league players are required to report Saturday, according to the settlement.
Even though the Cleveland Indian figure plastered atop Municipal Stadium was smiling and swinging a bat on his bolted-down sign, there were some hassles created by the new All-Star Game date.
First, there were the tickets. "We're still not sure what the ticket situation is," said Jerry Waring, the Indians' ticket director. "Originally, we had sold out for July 14. We've had some people who had tickets call in and ask for refunds. Then, we have had a lot of others -- who don't have tickets -- call in to see if they could buy some today. It's been very confusing so far."
Tickets for the game range from $20 box seats to $8 bleacher seats in the stadium that seats 76,685.
Then, there is the condition of the field. With the Browns and the Steelers playing in Municipal Stadium the night before the All-Star Game, the grass might get a bit shoddy.
Head groundskeeper Marshall Bossard, who has been working the field from before the times of Feller and Boudreau -- "Yep, I've been here 44 years" -- thinks it will work out.
"We'll work all through (next) Saturday night and through the morning. It takes two days to turn this into a foot ball field, but we can turn it back into a baseball field much quicker. The outfield and the fences take about six-seven hours to do. The infield takes about five hours. Sure, we can do it."
And the hotels. "We had the entire hotel -- 500 rooms -- reserved for All-Star Game headquarters for the 14th of July," said Pete Dangerfield, the general manager of Stouffer's Hotel, which is two blocks from the stadium. "For next weekend, we have a bridge convention scheduled all the way through. We will have very few rooms available for the All-Star people. They will have to be spread throughout the hotels in the city."
And at the stadium switchboard. "This is worse than a rainout. We have 11 lines and they haven't stopped. I'm starting to get cauliflower ear," said operator Marilyn Golkowski at 1 p.m. "I've been here since 1972 and it's never been this bad."
In the mayor's office, however, things are in control. "We're certainly glad that the baseball season is back and that Cleveland will be the spot where it will resume," said Mayor George Voinovich at his morning press conference.