Major League Baseball (MLB) has awarded its 2023 All-Star Game to the Seattle Mariners and T-Mobile Park, while the National Hockey League (NHL) has announced that Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario will host the 2022 Heritage Classic between the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 2023 Midsummer Classic will be the 93rd edition of the All-Star Game, which dates back to 1933, and the third held by the Mariners. The 1979 contest at the Kingdome saw the National League claim a 7-6 win, while the 2001 event at T-Mobile Park, then named Safeco Field, saw the American League earn a 4-1 victory.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said: “Seattle is the perfect place to host – not only do we have some of the greatest, most passionate sports fans anywhere in the world, Seattle continues to be one of the safest major cities in the country, with some of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates and lowest rates of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalisations. 

“We are focused on recovery and building back better, and the All-Star Game will be a perfect opportunity for us to invite people back to experience our new waterfront and revitalised downtown core in 2023.”

The Mariners will follow the upcoming Midsummer Classic hosts, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will welcome the 92nd All-Star Game to Dodger Stadium on July 19, 2022.

The Mariners’ staging will make it three consecutive years in which the game is played in the Western half of the United States. MLB in April confirmed the Colorado Rockies as the new host of its 2021 All-Star Game, citing the club’s readiness to take on the event at short notice.

MLB earlier stripped Atlanta’s Truist Park of hosting rights to the All-Star Game amid objections to new voting restrictions in the state of Georgia. Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, had been due to host the game on July 13 but MLB decided to relocate the event following discussions with clubs, former and current players, the Players Association and The Players Alliance, among others.

Speaking at yesterday’s (Thursday’s) announcement, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he was “not in a position” to comment on any talks about a future game in Atlanta and praised Seattle on being ready to host quicker than expected.

“John (Stanton, Mariners chairman and managing partner) and his people did a fantastic job getting ready sooner,” Manfred said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

“You know our deepest hope is for baseball to return to its traditional kind of apolitical stance. We’re about entertaining our fans, having an inclusive environment that everybody can come and enjoy our games.”

Mariners executives admitted that a key part of their bid was the franchise’s partnership with First and Goal, which operates Lumen Field adjacent to T-Mobile Park. The home of NFL American football team Seattle Seahawks and the area surrounding the two venues will be used extensively for fan engagement activities.

NHL adds third outdoors game for 2022

The Maple Leafs and Sabres will play in the 2022 Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field on March 13, the NHL has announced.

Next year’s game, which will see the Sabres designated as the home team, will be the sixth Heritage Classic since November 22, 2003, when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

It will also be the 35th outdoors game in NHL history and third scheduled this season. The St. Louis Blues will face the Minnesota Wild in the Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis on January 1. The Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Nashville Predators in the Stadium Series at Nissan Stadium on February 26.

The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime in the last staging of the Heritage Classic at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, on October 26, 2019. Tim Hortons Field is home to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said: “When the Toronto Maple Leafs meet the Buffalo Sabres at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, we again will honour Canada’s preeminent role in the history of our game while renewing a great and longstanding NHL rivalry.

“In addition, by inviting the first US-based team to a Heritage Classic, we will celebrate the greater Golden Horseshoe region as the home of so many fans of both the Leafs and Sabres.”

Image: Jordan Rowland on Unsplash