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Op-Ed: All-Star Game is Chance for us to Be Reintroduced to Our Region

I’m sitting in a meeting at the Great American Ballpark last Monday night with business, government, and civic leaders from all over the region, and Phil Castellini, the Chief Operating Officer for the Cincinnati Reds, comes to the podium. During his presentation on the various investments the Reds are making leading up to the All Star Game, and the various activities that will surround the game, he said something that I thought summed up the opportunity before us pretty well. He said, "We're not only introducing the city to visitors for the first time, we're reintroducing the city to ourselves."

The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region has a lot to offer and, in some cases, we don’t even know about it.

We have residents who haven’t been downtown or to our riverfront in the past 10 years. They haven’t yet seen the new Washington Park, gotten a tour of the Freedom Center, gotten a bourbon at the New Riff Distillery, or taken a ride on a Red Bike. They haven’t had lunch at Otto’s in Covington’s MainStrasse, or had dinner at the 21c Museum hotel.

The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region is a terrific place, but all too often we stay in our own neighborhoods, and stick to what is most familiar.

Sometimes we take our city for granted.

I’m a baseball fan, but what is so exciting about the All Star Game to me is, just as Phil said, it is an opportunity to “reintroduce the city to ourselves.”

That concept is driving the “Baseball Across the Region” effort (#BATR). Just like the Olympic torch that goes around a community in advance of the Olympic games, we are taking a ceremonial baseball all around the region to highlight some of the best people, places, businesses and organizations our community has to offer.

But #BATR is just one of many ways the Cincinnati Organizing Committee will be “reintroducing” Greater Cincinnati this year. The committee, led by two energetic co-chairs, Sharry Addison and Melanie Chavez, is finalizing an array of activities that will make our community shine.

And folks throughout our community, at all levels, are getting in the game.

SEE: Photos: Northern Kentucky leaders welcome MLB All-Star Game

The park system is gearing up with enhancements to our parks that will include a MLB All Star Game logo covering nearly a full acre! And if you haven’t seen Smale Riverfront park recently, you are definitely going to want to check it out this summer. Not only will there be potted MLB plants lining the area, each one with a different team logo, there will also be a new merry go round and an outdoor piano you can play with your feet! Think of the movie “Big”, but outside in the park. As was said Monday night, “Perhaps we’ll even hear some kids playing take me out to the ball game!”

Local libraries are planning baseball themed activities.

Tourism folks are planning out concerts and parades.

Police officials are planning out security.

And let's not forget the arts. Artworks will have a “Treasure map of Art” so folks can navigate through some of the best art in the city.

There will be fun signage popping up on our streets. The sign “You’re a Drama Queen City” made me grin. It seemed to fit pretty well, as they will be showcasing our world class choirs, symphony, ballet, and dramatic productions.

This is the fifth time that Greater Cincinnati has hosted the MLB All Star Game, and if you were looking at it from just an economic perspective, it is already a hit.

Our hotel rooms are sold out, and restaurants and businesses are giddy about the nearly 200,000 people projected to come into the area.

Watching our tourism folks talk about the numbers, they seem almost as excited as when Reds fans heard Joey Votto was returning. He’s a great player, eh?

I hope we will all take some time to reflect on this All Star opportunity, not just for the baseball, and not just for the economy, but also for the showcase of our diverse and unique community.

Take some time to be a part of it.

Plan on becoming “reintroduced”to Greater Cincinnati this summer.

I think you’ll find our region is a homerun.

Brent Cooper is president of C-Forward in Covington and co-chair of Baseball Across the Region

Photo: Rosie Red (left) poses with Brent Cooper (center) and Thomas More College president David Armstrong (RCN file)