Mexico's Estadio Sonora A Big Hit As Caribbean Series Gets Underway
Estadio Sonora in Mexico, a $31M investment by the local government, is "strategically located in the center of a still-developing complex in the western part of Hermosillo, with a design inspired by the nearby Pinacate volcano," according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The venue is spread over 10 acres, seats 16,000 people and "can basically rival any Cactus League ballpark of neighboring Arizona." This winter, the new stadium will host the Mexican Pacific League's Hermosillo Naranjeros. On Friday, it marked its grand opening with the start of the Caribbean Series, "highlighted by a ceremonial first pitch" by former MLB Dodgers great and Mexican legend Fernando Valenzuela. Sonora state Sports Commission Dir and overseer of the project Vicente Sagrestano said, "I'm just so happy we have something like this now." In northwest Mexico, "where baseball is king" and football "is a distant second, the site of a plush new ballpark is not only welcoming, but quite unusual." None of the other seven Mexican Winter League teams have built a new stadium since the '70s. Former MLB outfielder Karim Garcia said, "It's going to have a huge impact, especially having the Caribbean Series over here, having all the other teams with the Major Leaguers playing in it, and all the other kids have a lot of idols from the other teams in Mexico." Sagrestano and his crew will coordinate with MLB Arizona Diamondbacks officials about playing spring training games at the new venue, "which can reach a capacity of 20,000 with bleachers in center field." Sagrestano estimates that the Series could bring between $20-30M in tourism revenue to the state of Sonora. The night before Day 1, he reported that "all games were sold out" and 98% of hotel rooms in Hermosillo had been booked (MLB.com, 2/2). In Mexicali, Carolina López wrote MLB Dodgers third baseman Hanley Ramírez "was surprised by the stadium." Ramirez said, "It is a stadium that looks like a Major League one, they did a great job here in this city, and I hope the people support it" (LA CRONICA, 2/1).