NEW YORK – Mr. Met stood near the podium with baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Mets owner Fred Wilpon and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Thanks for bringing your boss along," Bloomberg said to the mascot. "Does he pay you well?"
After more than three years of trouble on and off the field, the Mets feel things are looking up.
Major League Baseball finally announced Wednesday that the 2013 All-Star game will be hosted by the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 16 — the latest date for the game since 1985.
The Mets last hosted the All-Stars in 1964, the year Shea Stadium opened, when Johnny Callison's three-run homer capped a four-run ninth inning and gave the NL a 7-4 win. The game was last in New York in 2008, the final season of the old Yankee Stadium, when the AL won 4-3 in 15 innings.
"I think we are headed in the right direction," Wilpon said, using a cane following left hip-replacement surgery two weeks ago. "I know Major League Baseball believes in the Wilpons and the Mets."
On the field, the Mets have had losing records in each of their first three seasons at Citi Field. Off the field, their finances were paralyzed by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. In March the team's ownership group agreed to pay up to $162 million to the trustee recovering money for the victims.
"I said to Bud in the car, 'Now that this case is over — and it was very painful, and I don't want to get into that, it's in the rearview mirror now — there are no challenges in life for me,'" Wilpon said. "I can take any challenge."
After the news conference, Wilpon also modified his comment about third baseman David Wright. The owner was quoted in May 2011 in The New Yorker saying "a really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."
With Wright now hitting a major league-leading .408, Wilpon said: "I think he's playing like a superstar right now."
MLB decided at least four years ago that Citi Field would be the 2013 site but waited for negotiations with the city to make the announcement. Selig said Madoff didn't cause a delay.
"I have great faith in the Wilpons and the family and I was very confident that they would work things out, and they have," Selig said. "So my confidence was rewarded, and here we are announcing the All-Star game. I have no trepidation at all."
With the All-Star game returning to New York, Mets executive vice president David Howard said a jump in ticket prices is likely to levels comparable with those at Yankee Stadium. Prices were raised to $150-$725 for 2008, then cut to $100-$360 for the following year in St. Louis. Tickets cost $125-$450 for this year in Kansas City.
"The economy is rebounding," Howard said.
Bloomberg said the game and surrounding events will have a $191 million impact on the city's economy. The New York area also will host the Super Bowl in short succession, with the NFL's title game played on Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Bloomberg is hoping New York will host another baseball event.
"I'm counting on a Subway Series this year," he said.
The 2014 game is expected to be played at Minneapolis' Target Field.
"I'll wait on 14 and I'll wait on '15," Selig said. "I know where they're going."
Miami and Washington, D.C., appear to be the leading contenders for the games that follow. Because home-field advantage for the World Series goes to the All-Star winner, Selig said he would be reluctant to interrupt alternating All-Star sites between the leagues.