Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks Will Open 2014 MLB Season in Australia
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks are fresh off an intense game that featured multiple hit batters and a brawl. The suddenly budding rivalry will take center stage when the teams open the 2014 season in Australia.
UPDATE: Wednesday, June 12, at 9:51 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Major League Baseball is thrilled that the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers will open our 2014 regular season in Sydney, Australia. The globalization of our game continues to be paramount to Major League Baseball, and Australia is an essential part of our long-term efforts to grow the sport. We look forward to writing an exciting new chapter in international baseball history at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground next March.
---End of update---
Andrew Clennell of The Daily Telegraph broke the news:
US Major League Baseball is coming to Sydney, with the opening series of next season - between the LA Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks - to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground next March.
In a $13 million coup for the state government, the opening series of the MLB will be held at the SCG on Saturday March 22 and Sunday March 23 - the first time a competitive US baseball fixture will be held in Australia and only the sixth time one has been staged outside America.
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Major League Baseball has attempted to help the sport grow around the globe by taking part in the World Baseball Classic and playing regular-season games overseas. Heading to Australia to start next season is the latest proof of that.
The most recent example was the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics starting the season in Japan last year. It will be the first time either the Dodgers or Diamondbacks have been featured, bringing the total number of teams to open a season internationally to 13.
Los Angeles and Arizona will battle on the Sydney Cricket Ground. Clennell's report includes an artist's depiction of how the ground sets up for baseball.
Having the news break one day after the Dodgers and Diamondbacks scuffled can only help build further interest in the two-game set.
It's important to note the games haven't been confirmed by the league yet. That said, Australian sports minister Graham Annesley spoke in The Daily Telegraph report about the type of impact the series will make and the process the ground will undergo for baseball:
[The event would] generate more than 10,000 international and interstate visitor nights to Sydney, which will help us reach our goal to double overnight tourism expenditure in NSW by 2020.
Sydney has a history of hosting significant baseball games at the SCG, with the Chicago White Sox playing against a combined NSW team in 1914.
The SCG will be transformed into an MLB field, with the construction of an infield clay area, pitcher's mound, dugouts and additional grandstand.
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks continue their current drama-filled series tonight. If the tension continues to build throughout the 2013 season, this rivalry would be a perfect way to start the 2014 season in Australia.
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