In 1996, the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets played a three-game set of the first-ever official Major League Baseball series played outside of the United States. Since then, the MLB has made efforts to expand to other parts of the world, taking official baseball games to places like Australia, Korea, Japan, and London, where this past June, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees attracted roughly 120,000 curious onlookers into Wembley Stadium to watch a sport that wasn’t rugby, soccer, or cricket.
Now, the MLB is heading back to Mexico for more international games, announcing that the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres will play a two-game set next season.
Taking place April 18 and 19 in Mexico City, the D-Backs and Padres will face off at Estadio Diablos, a new facility that opened earlier this year in the capital city. It will be considered a home series for the D-Backs and a potential tourism draw for Mexico.
“Having an MLB series played in Mexico is a tremendous bit of outreach for tourism. Baseball is a common thread between the two countries,” said Luis Ramirez, economic advisor. “Something like this only builds loyalty between Mexico and Arizona. In the future, as these regular season games become more established, we anticipate more Americans going down there to see the games and stay.”
When it comes to official baseball games taking place in nearby Mexico, a location more reachable than places like London or Japan, this brings up the idea of travel and tourism from Arizona to Mexico.
Tourism from Mexico accounts for the majority of all expenditures in Arizona by international visitors to the state. The annual economic impact rests around $2.5 billion and supports about 30,000 jobs throughout Arizona. For Mexico, its border states see a lot of travelers coming down from Arizona to places like Puerto Peñasco, Puerto Vallarta, Chihuahua, and Mexico City. And with new flight options being offered through major airlines, getting to games in the country won’t be as difficult.
“It’s a two-way street when it comes to travel and tourism. Some people don’t really understand that baseball is a way of life down in Mexico,” Ramirez said.
Now, Mexican leagues are coming up to Arizona to play official games, like in Douglas, Tucson, Mesa, and Nogales, where the Mexican Baseball Fiesta plays series. This points to the possible economic boost that comes with it, seeing baseball fans shop, stay, and dine out at Arizona-based businesses.