MLB is a hit in Mexico City
We’ve now stretched past the one-month mark of the Major League Baseball season. There have been plenty of changes — on and off the field, and plenty more may be in store. Some of those changes have been hard to absorb, but one which is forward-thinking and welcome is the league’s recent games in Mexico City.
Our own work in North America’s largest city with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs proves that there’s a massive audience for sports more commonly associated with the United States in the country. Too, while Mexico is likely most strongly associated with football, there is a thriving professional baseball league there. The country, while not on the level of the Dominican Republic in the sport, has also produced hundreds of major league players.
A rich history
These include Fernando Valenzuela, a six-time all-star, and Julío Urías, one of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ current stars. With this in mind, MLB played a pair of games between the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú over the weekend. Both teams received enthusiastic support from their fans. In addition to the response, the groundwork may have been laid for even bigger plans to come.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) May 1, 2023
Plans are in place already for a 2024 return, pitting the Colorado Rockies against the Houston Astros. The Rockies are a natural fit for the series as they already are accustomed to playing at elevation. This is something that was noticeable over the weekend in the number of home runs hit. The higher altitude of Mexico City contributes to the ball traveling further, something that will no doubt have delighted fans.
And there were plenty of fans to be delighted — the park was filled to nearly its 20,000 capacity for both games. The league has previously played games in Monterrey, in the north of the country. These were prior to the pandemic, however, so this marked a return to normalcy and an ambitious move. The games also saw involvement with youth initiatives around the game, a fan fest, and an appearance from noted WWE wrestler Rey Mysterio.
— WWE (@WWE) April 30, 2023
The experience provided for the fans was something special, a sentiment echoed by Padres Manager Bob Melvin. “The travel and being here, playing in the environment, [it’s] a lot of emotion,” he said. “There’s just a lot more that went into two days than you normally do. But we had a terrific time.”
With the fans and the league having the same experience, the trend towards engaging audiences in Mexico continues apace. It’s not just baseball and the NFL, either — a recent report has college teams eyeing a move south of the border as well. The league’s next moves are already a continued step in this direction — could we even see a franchise in Mexico one day?