Major League Baseball is going to Mexico City for this weekend's two-game exhibition series between the Astros and Padres, and it will stay in that nation's capital with a permanent operational presence after the final pitch is thrown.MLB announced on Thursday that MLB Mexico will be headquartered in Mexico City
Major League Baseball is going to Mexico City for this weekend's two-game exhibition series between the Astros and Padres, and it will stay in that nation's capital with a permanent operational presence after the final pitch is thrown.
MLB announced on Thursday that MLB Mexico will be headquartered in Mexico City as the sixth and newest MLB office outside the United States, joining Beijing, London, Santo Domingo, Sydney and Tokyo. Rodrigo Fernández, MLB Mexico's first employee, will serve as managing director.
MLB Mexico will direct league efforts to embrace local fans and partners of baseball. Televisa and MLB have renewed their longstanding partnership and will broadcast a new national MLB Game of the Week each Saturday afternoon during the regular season. Astros and Padres split-squad teams will play in the Mexico City Series at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday and 3 p.m. ET on Sunday at Estadio Fray Nano, and the celebration will include the MLB Festival in Zocalo Square.
"Commissioner Manfred's vision for globalizing baseball cannot become a reality without localizing MLB in Mexico," said Chris Park, MLB senior vice president for growth, strategy and international. "Our local fans and partners are part of our core community, and Rodrigo Fernández understands how best to serve them. The Mexico City Series, MLB Festival at Zocalo, and Televisa's MLB Game of the Week open what will be a very active inaugural year for MLB Mexico."
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Fernández will manage local business and market development at MLB Mexico. Before joining MLB, he served as vice president and general manager for World Wrestling Entertainment's Latin American operations. He also has worked for Fox International in Latin America and for Sony Pictures and The Walt Disney Corporation in business development and strategy roles.
Televisa, a longtime MLB broadcast partner in Mexico and the exclusive Mexican broadcast partner for the Mexico City Series, will bring baseball to fans across the country with an extended broadcast agreement through 2018. The centerpiece of this new relationship is the national MLB Game of the Week. Televisa also will broadcast games on Monday nights, at least one game on either Tuesday or Thursday night on their all-sports channel Televisa Deportes Network (TDN), and the 87th MLB All-Star Game and the postseason, including the 112th World Series.
In conjunction with the Mexico City Series, MLB and the Mexico City Sports Ministry will bring the MLB Festival to Zocalo Square in downtown Mexico City on Friday through Sunday. The free event will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time each day, and it will feature a full-sized baseball field in the square where youth clinics will be held throughout the weekend.
Fans attending the festival will experience baseball through interactive challenges and attractions. Mexican fans will also have the opportunity to purchase a variety of MLB products, including caps from New Era and apparel from Majestic Athletic. The MLB Festival visited Monterrey, Mexico, in September 2005. Its prior stops include Canada, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Puerto Rico and Taiwan.
Mexico's passion for baseball was on full display once again this past week, as its national team, led by Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, won the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Mexicali. Mexico defeated the Czech Republic (2-1) and then beat Nicaragua twice (11-0 and 12-1) to emerge from a qualifier that also included Germany, thus advancing to the fourth installment of the Classic in March 2017.
The two-game Mexico City Series will be the first MLB games at Fray Nano, home of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico. Foro Sol, the previous home of the Diablos Rojos, hosted MLB Spring Training games in 2001, '03 and '04, as well as opening-round action for the '09 World Baseball Classic.
Fray Nano seats roughly 4,500 people, but it will have an expanded capacity of roughly 8,000 for this weekend's contests. The Mexico City Series will come just days after the Rays played a historic game in Cuba against the Cuban national team.
"I think the atmosphere that we're expecting down there is going to make it feel like a regular-season baseball game," Padres manager Andy Green said.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.