DENVER (KDVR) — The Mile High City has changed drastically since 1998 – the last time it hosted Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.
There was less density in LoDo and large fields neighbored Union Station. High-rise buildings now fill the sky, offering city living, restaurants, breweries and hotels. The heart of historic LoDo has also changed.
“We were one of maybe four or five bars and restaurants down here at that time,” said Sports Column bar general manager Kyle Hesseltine.
Hesseltine has been on the job at Sports Column since 1996. Coors Field was just a year old then. Two short years later, baseball’s best players would descend on Colorado.
“It was very exciting,” Hesseltine said. “The whole weekend building up to it … the celebrities and things like that— it was amazing.”
While Hesseltine took care of thirsty fans, Bruce Hellerstein was enjoying the game.
“The balls were just flying out of there,” Hellerstein recalled.
Hellerstein is the founder of the nonprofit National Ballpark Museum in LoDo. The small storefront location has All-Star memorabilia on display. During the 1998 game, Hellerstein said a certain kind of souvenir was all the rage.
“Almost as big as the All-Star Game were the Beanie Babies,” Hellerstein said.
The stars and stripes Beanie Baby design was in high demand. Fast forward to 2021, business owners are thankful their products will be in high demand after a year of uncertainty. Those working near the ballpark are calling the game and coinciding events a big win for the local economy.