The historic first pitch is yet to be thrown at the SCG, but organisers are hoping Major League Baseball in Sydney can become a four-yearly event.
Securing the rights to host official MLB matches has been a process nearly eight years in the making for promoter Jason Moore of Moore Sports.
However, director of the MLB’s Australia and Oceania office, Tom Nicholson revealed the first moves towards bringing America’s favourite pastime down under were made after the Sydney Olympics.
Now the dream has finally become a reality, with the LA Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks to lock horns this weekend, organisers are confident they have the infrastructure and know-how in place to host MLB matches at the SCG on a regular four-year cycle.
And it seems the desire to make baseball part of the Sydney sporting calendar isn’t a one-way street.
MLB officials are interested in Australia for its talent resources and proximity to the huge Asian market.
Nicholson confirmed Sydney is being looked at to host the MLB opening series again in 2018.
“Absolutely. We want this to be a success. We want Sydney to support it and they are,” Nicholson told AAP.
“This has never been done before especially in what we call a developing market.
“It’s OK in Japan, you just turn the key – you’ve got a ready-made baseball stadium.
“But coming somewhere as iconic as Sydney and the SCG, we’re trailblazing.
“Seeing all this hard work and the template we have now to replicate next time around, we’d love to host this every four years.
“There is a window for us on the international calendar so we’re looking at 2018 as a possibility and have it every four years thereafter.”
The MLB were initially concerned about Sydney for travel and logistical reasons, but came around to Moore’s concept for two key reasons.
The potential of the Australian Baseball League, which is to begin its fourth season, and the fact that Sydney was a safe and easy way to bring the game to Asia.
“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, let’s just worry about getting past the 23rd of March,” said Moore, who has negotiated the concept from the start.
“We would like to think we now have a playbook of how to do it and certainly we’ll sit down after the dust settles and speak with NSW government, speak with the SCG, speak with Major League Baseball.
“People should be aware that baseball is a growing sport in this country … there’s some great opportunity for talent here. We’re certainly over represented from Major League Baseball scouts, with 28 of 30 clubs represented by fulltime scouts in this country.
“We are the gateway to Asia and from a business to business standpoint, this is a business opportunity for them – 2.2 billion people live in our time zone.”
Arizona and LA players will touch down on Tuesday, the Diamondbacks suffering a major blow with starting pitcher Patrick Corbin ruled out with an elbow injury, while the Dodgers will be missing all-star Carl Crawford, who is staying back for the birth of his child.