Manfred wants regular-season games in Mexico City as MLB mulls expansion

Posted: 30/05/2017 in MLB, Sports
Tags: , , , ,

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As Major League Baseball continues to mull the possibility of international expansion, commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday he wants to see regular-season games played in Mexico City.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real-live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred told reporters, including MLB.com’s Richard Justice, ahead of Tuesday’s game between the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major Leauge team.”

Identified last year as a front-runner to land an expansion franchise, Mexico City hosted a two-game exhibition series in 2016 – the first MLB action in the Mexican capital in 12 years – and Manfred has said that “making a full-time commitment in Mexico would very important.” International regular-season play was jointly agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement, too, so the league could conceivably start scheduling games in Mexico City as soon as 2018.

“We’re hopeful that what we see in Mexico will continue to encourage us that that’s a possibility (for expansion),” Manfred said. “We also had a good experience with the (World Baseball Classic) in Mexico. The venue was a good one. It sold well. We had good crowds – another positive in terms of more Major League-level baseball in Mexico.”

Whether Mexico City remains a viable market for an MLB franchise, however, remains to be seen. Executives and economists are torn on the issue, and the ensuing logistics, though Mexican-born MLB players remain enamored of the possibility.

“I think all of Mexico would travel to wherever the team is,” Adrian Gonzalez, the five-time All-Star raised in Tijuana, told ESPN’s Thomas Neumann last year. “It would be a team for the whole country. I think for the most part, people from all over the country would make their way just for the games.”

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