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Nationals Park could host the All-Star Game three years from now.
Though the league hasn't yet announced where the Midsummer Classic will take place beyond next year (when the New York Mets will host), the 2014 game is expected to be played in Minnesota, with the 2015 game either in Washington or Miami. And according to a league source familiar with commissioner Bud Selig's thinking, the Nationals are currently the frontrunners to host the game over the Marlins.
Members of the Lerner family have long expressed their desire to bring the All-Star Game to the District, which hosted the event at Griffith Stadium in 1937 and 1956 and then at what became known as RFK Stadium in 1962 and 1969. And MLB officials have supported a Midsummer Classic at Nationals Park since the facility opened in 2008.
The only hangup has been a desire for more commercial development around the ballpark, a process that was stalled by a poor economy. There has been increased construction in the area this year, however, and more is expected to be completed by the time the 2015 game would be played.
If the Nationals don't land the 2015 All-Star Game, they would again be frontrunners for the 2017 game, which Selig prefers alternates each year between NL and AL ballparks.
Though Minnesota's Target Field and the new Yankee Stadium are the only recently opened AL ballparks that have yet to host an All-Star Game, there are several NL franchises that are still waiting to land the game at their recently opened parks: the Nationals, Marlins, Padres, Reds and Phillies.
"Teams are desperate for the game, and I really have my hands full trying to juggle through the next few years trying to be as fair as possible," Selig said today during a Q&A session with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "Ten, 15 years ago you had to beg people to take it. You had to offer them some other kind of carrots for them to take this game."
Meanwhile, next year's altered schedule -- a byproduct of the Astros moving to the AL to give both leagues 15 clubs -- is likely to reduce the number of times the Nationals and Orioles play each other.
Players association executive director Michael Weiner, who also held a Q&A with BBWAA members, said all teams from one division will play 15 games against another division from the opposite league each year (e.g. every NL East team will play three games against every AL Central team). Interleague teams deemed as "traditional" rivals would then only play three games against each other, meaning the Nationals and Orioles would play one season in Washington and then the next season in Baltimore.
There is a chance, Weiner said, that the interleague rivals could instead play four total games each season: two in one city, two in the other.