MLB should host its All-Star Game in Latin America
MLB has tried a lot over the years to increase interest in its All-Star Game, but one thing they haven't tried is playing it outside of North America
MLB has tinkered with its All-Star Game many times over the last two decades in the hope of drawing more attention to the Midsummer Classic. But maybe it’s time they look at the setting and play it outside of their borders.
The Dominican Republic is the second biggest country of origin for MLB players, amounting to eleven percent of the league’s Opening Day lineups, followed by Venezuela with ten percent. In the Caribbean and in countries such as Panamá, Colombia and Venezuela, fans eat, sleep and breathe baseball.
It wouldn't be a trip to the Dominican Republic without taking in a Dominican Winter League baseball game at Estadio Quisqueya. Notable MLB players included Hanley Ramirez, Aristides Aquino, and Jumbo Diaz. Oh yea and beer was 25 pesos (roughly 50 cents US) pic.twitter.com/hHTgP9BxwD
— 🇩🇴 🏳️🌈 MelPool #BLM (@melpoolcosplay) November 30, 2019
MLB throughout the last decade has held several regular season series and Spring Training games in Japan, England, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Those games have succeeded in getting more eyeballs on a league with a long-term marketing problem, as many international fans lack access to watching their favorite teams and players.
But why not hold an All-Star Game in Latin America? Why not hold a midsummer classic in Santo Domingo?
International games have already worked for MLB
The last time MLB held a game in Latin America was in 2020 when the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers faced off in a Spring Training game in the Dominican Republic. For the first time in twnety years, Major League teams played in front of a Dominican crowd at the sold-out Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo.
If fans pack their local stadium for one Spring Training game, just imagine what impact an All-Star Game in a country where baseball is king can have.
MLB:Rays Beat Cuban Natl Team 4-1 in Exhibition Game in Havana;First Game Played Involving MLB Team in Cuba Since 99 pic.twitter.com/QQKj30hJKf
— AC Adams (@ACAdams80) March 22, 2016
MLB has been adamant about growing the game and catering to young fans, but their international reach doesn’t seem to be helping. By holding annual games in London, MLB is essentially trying to tap into a market where soccer is the only sport that matters. What they should do instead is look towards their eager and diehard market in Latin America.
Other professional sport leagues have done it–the NBA has held games in Mexico City, the NFL holds annual games in London and Mexico City (and now is tapping into Munich). Even UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid will play their biggest rival Barcelona in Las Vegas later this summer.
The All-Star Game needs tinkering
Baseball is rapidly falling behind other sports in this respect, and they can use their All-Star game as an international showcase. The 2021 All-Star Game in Colorado drew in 8.31 million total viewers, which was actually an increase from the 2019 version which drew in a record-low 8.1 million. It is increasingly concerning that the game draws such low numbers when the best baseball players in the world are playing one another. By doing something out of the ordinary, however, they can increase interest in the game.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just made Home Run Derby history by hitting 29 home runs in a single round! pic.twitter.com/3FChcPEe2H
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) July 9, 2019
MLB has already shown they are not shy of trying new things, as the minor leagues have become a testing site for MLB’s experiments. There are now many recently added and altered pregame festivities surrounding the game, such as a red carpet show, fan conventions, a celebrity softball game and the famous Home Run Derby. There is usually a Latin American flair throughout these festivities due to the players themselves adding their own touch, and MLB would do well by driving more attention towards its Latin American stars during this event.
Latin America has given so much to MLB, whether that be in terms of fandom, players and ratings. It is time for MLB to give back to Latin America, but more importantly to give back to their Latin American fans.