Baseball All-Stars could play at Eden Park

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 14/06/2013
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An All-Stars baseball team could soon find home plate in New Zealand, bringing millions of dollars and thousands of fans with them, if a pitch to host an exhibition game is approved by America's Major League Baseball.

Baseball New Zealand is in discussions to bag a Major League Baseball (MLB) team for an exhibition game, following the announcement Sydney would host two games next year.

Yesterday, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks would open their seasons with two games at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia.

The Opening Day games would be watched by an estimated 175 million people worldwide, and bring about 15,000 overseas tourists to Sydney for the teams' six-day stay.

Baseball New Zealand chief executive Ryan Flynn said the organisation was in talks with Eden Park and MLB about hosting a baseball game in New Zealand.

"I don't mean the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers playing, yet, for a number of years, but we could get an All-Star game in the next couple of years."

The proposed game would be similar to when MLB sent an All-Stars to play a series of exhibition games in Taiwan in 2011, Flynn said, and would be played against New Zealand's national baseball squad, the Diamondblacks.

Flynn said the Australian games were the result of years of negotiations and planning and official season games in New Zealand were still some time away, although not an unrealistic target.

The SCG in Australia has a capacity of 46,000, whereas Eden Park in Auckland can seat 50,000.

Flynn was confident a game in New Zealand would go close to a sellout, even if it was just to see an All-Star side.

Agenda Marketing director John Dow, who was involved in the establishment of the Wellington Phoenix, said any baseball game in New Zealand was likely to come with a high price tag.

"I think that to make it work in New Zealand, whether it's Auckland or Wellington, you'd really have to have central government backing.

"I don't think it's out of the question at all," he said.

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