As a spectator event, baseball’s winter meetings are best viewed in front of a computer screen: which free agent is signing where, what trades will be completed and which have fallen through, on and on. But the backdrop for all that transactional, franchise-building news is, each December, an actual place – and in 2016, that will be just outside Washington.
Minor League Baseball, which hosts the annual meetings, has agreed to stage the event at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, which sits along the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, the first time they’ll be in the Washington area since 1958.
And if the proximity to the nation’s capital seems like a natural draw for the meetings – which last year were in San Diego and next month will be held in Nashville – there are more practical concerns. With somewhere between 5,000-6,000 attendees over the course of the five-day conference, the winter meetings can only go to cities with proper hotel and convention facilities.
“Any time we hear about a new hotel going up or a convention center remodeling, we want to go in and look at everything,” said Tim Brunswick, Minor League Baseball’s vice president of baseball and business operations. “We wanted to go in and see Gaylord National. It gave us another major league city to go to. We’re excited about it. And National Harbor is key.”
The resort, which serves as the anchor to the National Harbor nightlife and entertainment development, opened in 2008. It will serve as the home base for much of the meetings’ agenda, which includes a trade show, two awards banquets of about 1,200 people apiece and a gala. Last year, the gala was held at San Diego’s Petco Park.
“Depending on the weather,” Brunswick said, “we’d love to do something with the Nationals at Nationals Park.”
A Nationals spokesperson said MiLB hadn’t yet approached the Nationals about hosting an event, but the club is open to the idea.
The winter meetings date back to the early part of the 20th century and began as a format for league business to be conducted. Now, they provide face-to-face meetings for any and all major league executives. Increasingly, though, they have become more of a news-generating event, the centerpiece of baseball’s “hot stove” season.
The 2016 meetings will run from Dec. 4-8. When the Gaylord Opryland Resort hosts this year’s meetings Dec. 6-10, it will mark the fourth time Nashville has served as the host city since 2000 – more than any other place. Orlando has hosted three times in that span, and Indianapolis twice.