MLB hopes for European games within 5 years

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Major League Baseball hopes to play regular-season games in Europe within five years and return to Mexico for the first time since 1999.

Rob Manfred, who took over as commissioner from Bud Selig in January, has made expansion of international play a priority.

''I think the view is that the more you play in these countries on a continual basis rather than going to a country one year and then waiting five years to return, the better, in terms of developing baseball,'' Dan Halem, Major League Baseball's chief legal officer, said during a news conference Wednesday at the general managers' meetings.

''Mexico is a priority of ours, in terms of further developing it as a baseball market. Europe, which we really haven't done much in over the years, is also a priority, but nothing certainly has been planned yet. But I think it's the commissioner's goal to be able to play regular-season games in both Mexico and in Europe, certainly over the next five years.''

San Diego and the New York Mets played a three-game series at Monterrey, Mexico, in August 1999, and Colorado and the Padres opened the 1999 season with one game there. MLB also has played regular-season games in Tokyo and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In its election manifesto last spring before retaining control of Parliament, Britain's Conservative Party said it ''will support new sports in the U.K., in particular through greater links with the U.S. National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, with the ultimate ambition of new franchises being based here.''

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