The NBA has played preseason games in China. The NFL has games set to play in London next year. Even Notre Dame's football team joined sports' international outreach this year, playing Navy in Ireland earlier in the college football season.
Now, it looks like Major League Baseball is joining the parade. According to The Sydney Morning Herald reporter Adrian Proszenko, the Los Angeles Dodgers are negotiating to start the 2014 season with a game in Australia:
Earvin ''Magic'' Johnson is set to bring his Los Angeles Dodgers to Sydney to open the 2014 Major League Baseball season.
The negotiations to bring the Dodgers, owned by National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Johnson, are well advanced and their likely opponents will be the Arizona Diamondbacks for a historic clash at the SCG.
The report states, "Destination NSW, MLB and Australian Baseball League officials have been working on the project for several years, but the identity of teams has been a heavily guarded secret." With an icon like Johnson now leading the charge, that has to help move things along at this point.
Bob Turner, chairman of the Sydney Blue Sox—an Australian professional baseball team—had this to say about Johnson's presence and what the series would mean:
If we can get Major League Baseball's season opener, which we're working on, in a couple of years' time at the SCG, it will really put the game on the map. Especially if we can get the LA Dodgers to come, where Magic Johnson is the spokesman-owner. That would be great for the game to give us a profile no other sport can really match.
It's obvious that everyone has the same thing in mind. Money and exposure is on the line for both parties. The report states:
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.
The international movement surrounding professional sports has been obvious as of late. The Sydney Cricket Ground is a major venue, and Johnson is a major name with major pull. In terms of fit, this situation seems to be glove-tight.
On top of that, there is a historical context to all of this. According to Proszenko, the Chicago White Sox played in the SCG in 1914. The Dodgers’ three-game series, ideally played in March, would mark the 100-year anniversary of that series.
Talks are “well advanced,” but nothing is set in stone just yet. Talks from both sides make it seem like they want to make this an ongoing thing, making Sydney “the Dodger City of the Pacific.”
Johnson has turned the Dodgers around with his money and creativity in a very short period of time already. Adding this would be another impressive notch on his resume.