Game On Cincinnati: The Community Efforts Behind Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game

Photography by Wes Battoclette

Major League Baseball’s choice of Cincinnati as the location for the 86th All-Star Game was made shortly after the 2012 World Choir Games, which brought 200,000 visitors to the city. Cincinnati’s numerous volunteers were expert hosts, facilitating transportation and recommending must-see locations while enthusiastically displaying their city pride. The city handled the event incredibly well, and MLB took notice. 

But the city’s volunteers didn’t just spontaneously organize for that 2012 event; they were assembled by a community organizing committee (COC). Now that the All-Star Game has come to Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Reds organization and the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau encouraged the COC to ramp up its efforts again. And it will need to. With 200,000 expected visitors and a potential economic impact of $60 million, in the space of one long weekend, the city will need all the help it can get.

“The purpose of the COC is to engage the volunteer base Cincinnati is known for to involve the entire community in the All-Star Game and make it enjoyable for everyone,” says Sharry Addison, one of the COC’s four co-chairs. The volunteer base Addison references is organized by the Welcomers Community Volunteer Network, a turnkey volunteer scheduling system formed after the World Choir Games.

Cincinnati’s enthusiasm for creating celebrations surrounding the game at first presented unique challenges. It was a degree of enthusiasm MLB had never encountered in a host city. “We’ve been told they’ve never seen a city activate like this before,” says Suzanne McNabb, attorney at Thompson Hine LLP, a sponsor of the COC. But by the end of 2014, the kinks had been worked out and the sponsorship committee set about its work.

Selling an event like this, which is primarily rooted in civic pride, was something new for McNabb and Lafley. But once they started the community conversations in tandem with the Reds, they realized that the combination of civic pride and baseball was one that spoke to our business community. 

While their goals were modest in the beginning, McNabb and Lafley are proud to say that the COC has surpassed its expected fundraising totals. Sponsors emerged from the community – many of them. “The response was amazing,” says Lafley. “The sponsors truly believe that we have a chance to shine on the national spotlight.”

“It makes you very proud to be a part of this community when you see the corporate citizens step up in the way they have,” she says. “A special thank you is also owed to the Cincinnati Reds as they have been an amazing partner throughout this process.”

The success of the All-Star Game will further add to Cincinnati’s resume as a premier host city for national and global events. The more events of this land it can attract, the better the city will be for all of its residents and businesses.

“I’m a lifetime Cincinnati resident and I’ve seen its ups and downs,” says McNabb. “This venture is an outgrowth of my love for the city and my desire to show the world what a great place it is for people to live, work and play.”  

For more information on how to get involved in the Welcomers Community Volunteer Network, go to

The law firm of Thompson Hine LLP is located at 312 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can reach them at 513.352.6700 or visit their website at