By JENNIFER PELTZ | AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball's best players will parade past Grand Central Terminal, and a convention center will be transformed into a baseball theme park as part of the festivities for the first All-Star game at the Mets' new stadium.
The party plans include five days of fanfare, including All-Star players parading along 42nd Street on a massive red carpet, player appearances and baseball clinics at the Javits Center convention facility, and, of course, the annual home run derby at Citi Field.
"There's nothing that's comparable to playing in an All-Star game in New York," Mets third baseman David Wright said Wednesday at a City Hall news conference announcing festivities leading up to the July 16 showdown at Citi Field.
Baseball also marked the official start of All-Star voting, with the online ballot up and running, and voting slated for every major league stadium by May 7.
Wright has been selected for six All-Star games, including 2008 at the old Yankee Stadium. But he would "gladly trade all six of those in to participate in this year's," he said at City Hall, flanked by former Mets Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco and Mookie Wilson.
The Mets last hosted the All-Star game in 1964 in Shea Stadium. Citi Field opened in 2009.
"New York knows how to throw a party, and this is going to be something special," said Franco, a four-time All-Star who pitched for the Mets for 14 years.
"And, you know, I already voted for David 15 times," he joked.
This year's All-Star events are expected to draw 176,000 fans and journalists, generate more than $190 million in economic activity and help show off New York's growing muscle as a sports hub, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Besides the All-Star game, the city boasts two new baseball stadiums, a new basketball arena and a role in hosting next year's Super Bowl at the new MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
"New York City really has become the sports capital of America," Bloomberg said before receiving an honorary Mets jersey with the No. 13.