On 13 June 2013 the NSW Government announced that Sydney had won the rights to host the #Openingseries of Major League Baseball (MLB) in 2014 – this would be the first time that such a match would be held in Australia. The #Openingseries of the MLB, which is one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world, is now underway in front of a near sold out out crowd at one of the oldest cricket grounds in the world the SCG. This similar to when Oprah came to Australia but on a much bigger scale!
QANTAS chartered two of its 747s to bring the teams and officials out to Sydney for the game. The SCG has been transformed into a world-class MLB stadium. The soil for the diamond has been imported from the United States and the players’ locker rooms are full of creature comforts including imported sunflower seeds and gum. The SCG is in all sense of the word a ballpark. This is a serious investment and all stakeholders mean business. The LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks are very much in town and ready to play ball.
Watching the MLB Network host broadcast coverage on ESPN / GEM, which even features former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell (he was a decorated baseball player before pursuing cricket full time), it certainly is a spectacle and one that Destination NSW will be happy with as coverage of the game and those iconic Sydney images are broadcast across the world. The MLB Network coverage has used the word ‘historic’ a lot tonight and it really is an historic occasion as two MLB teams play for points on Australian soil.
At the time of announcing the series in June last year, it was estimated by the NSW Government that the #Openingseries matches would deliver a direct visitor impact of more than $13 million for the local economy. We have heard in the broadcast tonight that some 400+ Arizona Diamondback season members have made the journey from the US to witness the two opening games at the SCG. It seems the investment from Destination NSW will pay off.
The #Openingseries is estimated to have a global TV household audience of up to 168 million households in key tourism markets, including an estimated 75 million in the USA, 49 million households in Japan and 20 million households in China. The two games over two days means Asian viewer’s get Saturday night’s game LIVE in primetime, while US viewers get two games in one day, including one in US primetime (the Sunday game in Australia). This is due to the time zone differences between Australia and the US. This gives maximum exposure to sponsors such as Destination NSW, ESPN, QANTAS and Volkswagen.
The games are being broadcast in the US on the MLB Network (who is the host broadcaster for the games), on local cable channels in the US such as Fox Sports Arizona, across Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Latin America and the Caribbean on ESPN (and GEM in Australia as well), in some Asian markets on Fox Sports Asia and in Japan on JSports.
Tim Slavin, MLBPA Chief of Business Affairs, said:
“A major component of our efforts to grow the global popularity of the game is to increase the exposure of the events we stage by partnering with world-class TV outlets such as MLB Network, at home, and Nine Network and ESPN, abroad…we’re confident each of these partners will help us grow our international fan base by shining a spotlight on the world’s greatest baseball players as they open the 2014 Championship Season in Sydney, Australia.”
The #Openingseries is big business (like the Grand Départ of the Tour de France) and the spotlight is on Sydney this weekend as it puts on one hell of a show. Hopefully the TV ratings will be strong internationally so in the future Australians and those in favourable time zones can enjoy LIVE primetime Major League Baseball on a Saturday night.