Independence is stepping up to the plate and will offer a lineup of events in coordination with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game this July.

Independence is stepping up to the plate and will offer a lineup of events in coordination with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game this July.


The Tourism Department is working with the Truman Library and Museum, Parks and Recreation and the Independence Events Center to sponsor a series of events honoring the proximity of the 83rd All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 10.


“We are very excited about this event,” Cori Day, the city’s director of tourism, said at Monday’s City Council study session, “and we wanted to make sure that Independence was a definite stop for all of the visitors who will be in our area.”


With Independence’s close proximity to Kauffman Stadium, the city’s hotel occupancy for the days leading up to and immediately after the All-Star Game is now at 90 percent, Day said, “which tells us that folks have heard about Independence and that they are on their way.”


Even if residents were unable to secure a ticket to the game at Kauffman Stadium, a watch party will take place at the Independence Events Center, Day said. Additional details will be able as the event draws closer.


Some in Independence activities will include the following:


• “Presidential Pitch: Harry Truman and Baseball”: This Truman Library and Museum exhibit runs from June 29 through July 15, and combines two American classics, Day said: Harry Truman and baseball.


“And we do plan on having plenty about Bess,” she added, “because we know she was just as big – if not bigger – baseball fan than he was.”


• Legends of Crysler Stadium Ceremony: At 9 a.m. Saturday, July 7, at Crysler Stadium, jersey number retirements will take place for seven local baseball players who played at Crysler as children and later played in the major leagues. They are William Chrisman High School graduates Mort Cooper, his brother, Walker Cooper, Russ Morman and Don Buschhorn; Van Horn High School graduate Rick Sutcliffe; Truman High School graduate David Haas; and Fort Osage High School graduate Albert Pujols.


Each player’s number will be unveiled on the outfield wall.


• Youth Baseball Clinic: Following the Legends of Crysler ceremony, a clinic for ages 8-14 will take place. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and is $5, which includes a T-shirt. From 10:30 a.m. to noon, participants will learn fielding, pitching, batting tee work, base running, bunting and infield skills.


• Events Center concert: Grammy Award-winning Christian rock band Third Day, with special guest Samestate, will play at 7 p.m. July 7 at the Events Center. Tickets are available at the Events Center box office or at Ticketmaster.com.


But the celebration doesn’t end there.


Beginning May 5 and lasting through mid-August, the Tourism Department will embark on a “Celebrate Independence! Missouri” summer campaign.


Day said the marketing plan will embrace the “all-American feel of our city.” Advertisements will take place across Missouri, but the key focus areas for the campaign include Springfield, Mo., and Wichita, Kan.


“We have found that these two markets are good feeder markets for those who are looking to visit Independence throughout the summer,” Day said.


Locally, “Celebrate Independence!” includes the placement of new light-pole banners citywide, “to not only brighten up our city, but to welcome those coming from the All-Star Game into Independence,” Day said.


The city has partnered with the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association to make sure Independence and Eastern Jackson County are represented in any All-Star Game-related planning.


“With the 6-mile drive, we know it’s not very far to come out and see all of the things we have to offer, as well,” Day said.


District 4 Council Member Eileen Weir asked where the light-pole banners would be placed, as well as the potential economic impact on Independence during the All-Star Game events.


On the economic development side, the city is anticipating an impact of about $2 million to $3 million, but that’s always a difficult figure to pinpoint, Day said. That includes visitors spending money at shops, restaurants and staying in the city’s hotels.


“We think that it will make quite a splash in our city,” Day said.


Tourism staff are still working with Independence Power & Light to get a good count on the number of light poles, Day said, but they’ll definitely be placed at the major gateways, such as Truman Road and the Square.


“We want to use them the way they are meant to be used and make sure that we are doing that properly,” she said. “... We want (the visitors) to know that they are in Independence, which is so important due to the fact that we are so close, they cross over into Independence from Kansas City and they may not know where they are. We want them to know where we are.”