The Los Angeles Dodgers are "well advanced" in conversations with Australian Baseball League officials on a plan six years in the making to open their season in March 2013 in Sydney against the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to a report Thursday from Adrian Proszenko of The Sydney Morning Herald:
The proposed three-game series will be a huge coup for Australian sport, with the games to be televised to an audience of almost 300 million viewers across 81 countries. It's estimated the event will attract up to 25,000 overseas tourists and generate $80 million for the NSW economy.
Jason Moore, director of sports event-marketing firm Moore Sports, has reportedly been involved in the ongoing conversations between the MLB and the ABL. The games would be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, which can seat up to 46,000 people, and he said he anticipates the deal will be finalized by the end of the year:
''We've been to the altar a couple of times and we know believe we're getting up to bat, so to speak,'' Moore said. ''This will be the biggest sporting event in Sydney since the 2003 Rugby World Cup final.
The proposed Sunday afternoon game between the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers, who are co-owned by Magic Johnson, would air Saturday night at 8 p.m. PST in the United States. The plan would no doubt figure into MLB efforts to further globalize the game and the league brand. The MLB, along with the Australian Baseball Federation and Australia's Federal government, fund the ABL.
But in a report from Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times, the MLB is not exploring the possibility:
"We are not currently exploring the possibility with the Dodgers or any other team to play in Australia,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said.
To confuse matters even more, Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said he would definitely be interested in an opportunity for his team to play overseas. The team's top executive had made a trip to Japan and Mexico earlier in October to help build the brand of the team and the league.
“If the possibility existed for the D-Backs to play overseas, we would most certainly be interested, but I would leave an official comment to MLB International,” Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said in a statement released by the team.