Major League Baseball To Resume Japan All-Star Series As Early As 2014
MLB Int'l Business Operations Senior VP Paul Archey said that the Japan All-Star Series, featuring all-star teams from MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, could resume as early as this year. While the series, which started back in ’86, was never officially canceled, it has not been played since ’06. Both sides, however, are very interested in resuming the series, which took place every two years with the exception of ’94. “There are discussions to resume the series as early as this year,” Archey said. He also told SBD Global that scheduling conflicts are to blame for the postponement of the last several series. Two weeks ago, NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki said that Japan is preparing to send its national baseball team to play against visiting MLB stars in November. Although no dates have been set yet, Archey reiterated the commissioner’s comments by saying, “If it doesn’t happen this year, it’ll probably happen in the next couple of years.” It would also be the first time in the series’ history that an MLB all-star team takes on Japan's national team instead of an NPB all-star squad.
LOOKING BEYOND JAPAN: Baseball is a global sport, and so is MLB’s business. While Japan is arguably the most important market for the league, it is also looking to countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and China to increase its global footprint. Archey said that South Korea is probably the league’s third-largest market in terms of revenue. However, in comparison to China and Taiwan, MLB has not yet played games in South Korea. “One of the issues in South Korea has always been weather,” Archey said. “The only time for us to be able to go play there would be to open the season, so late March, or after the season in November. And their weather really gets kind of wet and cold at both of those times.” The solution for this dilemma is a domed baseball stadium, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open for the ’14 season. “The dome will open up new opportunities for us to play in that market,” Archey said. In addition to Korea, MLB is interested in returning to Taiwan, where it played games in the past. “In fact, they’ve shown a lot of interest in having us back to do something similar that we do in Australia, open the season,” Archey said. The Chinese market, which is a hot spot for almost any global business, is also an area where the league wants to grow its business. While MLB is already on the ground in China with an office in Beijing, three full-time academies, at least 10 TV partners and a licensing business, one of its primary goals is growing the player base in the country. Archey said, “We are starting to see the game grow and I think you’ll start to see some players coming out of China in the near future.”