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Could Major League Baseball be coming to Dubai?

LA Dodgers refuse to rule out NFL, NBA-style roadshow after signing grassroots tie-up with Emirates

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
Adrian Gonzalez (centre) and Dave Roberts during the official press conference to announce a new Emirates sponsorship at Emirates Group Headquarters.
Gulf News

Dubai: LA Dodgers coach Dave Roberts said he would be open to playing a Major League Baseball game in the UAE after his side partnered with Emirates Airline to sponsor Dubai Little League teams on Thursday.

Emirates signed a five-year deal to become the Dodgers’ official airline partner in February 2016 and have now announced an initiative to support grassroots baseball in the UAE.

But on the sidelines of their latest tie-up, which was unveiled at Emirates Headquarters, Dodgers coach Roberts and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said they would also be interested in playing here.

“Conversations are going to be spurred from this,” said Roberts, who was named National League Manager of the Year, last month. “Major League Baseball is always looking to expand and be open minded.

“If there’s an opportunity for two or potentially four teams to start a season here, so that there won’t be a competitive advantage, it makes sense. But obviously this is in its infancy.”

American Football’s National Football League (NFL) has held games from its international series at Wembley Stadium in London since 2007, and last month it held a match at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City for the first time since 2005.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has also held regular games outside of the US, with the last occurring in Beijing, China, in October.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has done similar. Their last outing saw the Dodgers play two games in Sydney, Australia, in 2014. The Middle East has yet to host any of America’s big three sports however, but Gonzalez said this could change.

“I got to be one of the first people to play an official Major League Baseball game in Australia a few years back when we went to Sydney,” he said. “I can definitely see us coming out here to play some games, whether they be exhibition or official matches, I can see it happening at some point in the near future.”

Roberts and Gonzalez also spoke about the need to end their 29-year wait for a World Series win.

Including this year, the six-time World Series champions have reached the last four twice since 2013, but they haven’t won it since 1988.

“We were only two games away from getting into the World Series this year and I think next year we are going to be right up there again,” said Roberts. “We will again contend to win the National League West and I expect to be right back in the mix.”

Gonzalez agreed: “We strive to win the World Series every year but only one team gets to be on top. We’ve been just two wins away from the World Series twice in the last four years. We will continue to strive to be our best and keep playing good baseball, so that the year will come, when we win it all.”

Asked if the Emirates tie-up helped their mission to reclaim top honours, Roberts added of the deal: “I don’t think this gives us a competitive advantage. This is bigger than just winning or losing, it’s more about building global awareness.”

Emirates has been flying to Los Angeles since 2008. Starting from July this year it grew to two flights per day.


Dodgers to host clinic in Dubai

Los Angeles Dodgers coach Dave Roberts and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will hold a clinic at the Dubai Little League ground in Al Quoz (on the way to Meydan Racecourse) on Friday, December 16, to inaugurate a new partnership between the LA Dodgers and Emirates Airline to sponsor Dubai Little League teams. The facility will now be known as the Emirates Airline Dubai Little League Park. The Dodgers will finance, kit and nurture around 500 players who participate in local grassroots baseball in Dubai.


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