MLB Could Return To Australia After Success Of Season-Opening Series In Sydney
The MLB opening series between the L.A. Dodgers and Arizona Diamdonbacks last weekend in Sydney "is unlikely to be a one-off " -- the sport's governing body and the promoter "have indicated their desire to bring the showpiece event back Down Under," according to Adrian Proszenko of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. MLB Senior VP/Int'l Operations Paul Archey said, "We don't see this as a one-time thing. We'd love to come back. We don't want to just play in the baseball hotbeds of Japan or Taiwan, Korea or Latin America -- we want to play in developing baseball markets and hopefully give the sport a boost to grow." The event "was touted as bringing an economic benefit" of approximately $13M to the region. Promoter Jason Moore believes the real figure will be much higher. Perhaps, most importantly, he "was able to recoup his money, meaning future attempts to bring MLB to town are economically viable." Moore said, "It's a phenomenally expensive event to put on. Am I going to lose my house? No. Am I going moving to deep waterfront? No. We're in a really good spot. I'm not making a lot of money out of it, not the money people think I'm making out of it" (SMH, 3/22).
FILLING THE STANDS: MLB spokesperson Matt Bourne told SBD Global that attendance for the season-opening series in Australia reached 107,627. That includes the two-game series between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground as well as the exhibition games of each club against the Australian national team on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Each game of the opening series drew more than 38,000 apiece (HJ Mai, SBD Global).
DODGER TOWN: The AAP reported painted as the "spoiled bad guys" at the start of the week, the L.A. Dodgers "won the city's hearts with an emphatic two-game sweep." When the SCG ground announcer "asked fans which team they were rooting for: the roaring reception for the megastarts worth $240M drowned out the polite claps for the small-town battlers from the Arizona desert." It was quite the 180, given Sydney's first impression of the Dodgers was pitcher Zack Greinke declaring he had "zero interest" in coming Down Under (AAP, 3/24). In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported at merchandise stores "it was the Dodgers caps that sold the fastest." L.A. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said, "I hope [we won over some fans]" (SMH, 3/23).
GOODBYE DIAMOND: NEWS LIMITED's Will Swanton wrote in the "surreal twilight glow of a magical couple of days at the SCG, curators were preparing to pull six consecutive all-nighters to have the old girl ready for the imminent return" of the National Rugby League. The "masterminds were SCG curator Tom Parker and Sydney-based turf specialist Graeme Colless." The NRL’s Heritage Round match between South Sydney and St. George Illawarra "is scheduled for the SCG on April 5." Parker and Colless "have received a deadline of Saturday to ditch the 250 tonnes of San Diego clay and all other unnecessary items of Americana." Colless "was cherrypicked" by MLB "to create an arena worthy of official ball games." It was "nothing but a stunning success" (NEWS LIMITED, 3/24).
QUEUE TO SUCCESS: In Melbourne, Malcolm Knox opined "whenever a sport discovers a frontier beyond the edge of the known world you have to ask who benefits." Who "watches?" Who -- to ask non-rhetorically -- "cares?" To baseball's credit, "bringing the opening series to Sydney shows a consciousness of a world beyond the World Series." Most of the crowd "have been American expats, enjoying a care package from home." Thousands of Australians "also came to soak up the event in good spirit." In the sideshow alley outside the SCG, "it was all about atmosphere, not colonisation." The stalls to "Learn more about baseball" and "Support the ALB" might as well "have been swept by tumbleweeds." By contrast, in the food court "the only thing longer than the hot dogs was the queue to buy one." At A$40 ($36.40), they "were a lesson in the price inelasticity of demand." If they had been A$80, the queue "would have been twice as long" (THE AGE, 3/24).
A FIELD FOR LANE: Ahead of Saturday's second game between the Dodgers and D-Backs, MLB honored Australian Christopher Lane, who was killed in Oklahoma in August. Lane was honored by the league with a moment of silence and the presentation of a symbolic home plate from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. The league is also working with Lane's hometown, the City of Moonee Valley, to create a field in his honor. The home plate used during the games at the SCG will be used for the new field (HJ Mai, SBD Global).