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Sydney in line to open 2014 MLB Baseball Season

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Magic's Dodgers set to step up to plate for SCG spectacular

EARVIN ''MAGIC'' JOHNSON is set to bring his Los Angeles Dodgers to Sydney to open the 2014 Major League Baseball season.

The negotiations to bring the Dodgers, owned by National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Johnson, are well advanced and their likely opponents will be the Arizona Diamondbacks for a historic clash at the SCG.

The proposed three-game series will be a huge coup for Australian sport, with the games to be televised to an audience of almost 300 million viewers across 81 countries. It's estimated the event will attract up to 25,000 overseas tourists and generate $80 million for the NSW economy.

The presence of Lakers legend Johnson, one of the most identifiable figures in world sport, is a further selling point to what will be one of the biggest events since the Sydney Olympics.

Destination NSW, MLB and Australian Baseball League officials have been working on the project for several years, but the identity of teams has been a heavily guarded secret. However, Sydney Blue Sox chairman Bob Turner let it slip at his team's season launch, attended by Premier Barry O'Farrell and NSW Sports Minister Graham Annesley, at Parliament House yesterday.

''If we can get Major League Baseball's season opener, which we're working on, in a couple of years' time at the SCG, it will really put the game on the map,'' Turner said. ''Especially if we can get the LA Dodgers to come, where Magic Johnson is the spokesman-owner. That would be great for the game to give us a profile no other sport can really match.''

Jason Moore, the director of sports event-marketing firm Moore Sports, has been in negotiations to make the series happen for six years. He hopes the deal will be signed by the end of the year.

''We've been to the altar a couple of times and we know believe we're getting up to bat, so to speak,'' Moore said. ''This will be the biggest sporting event in Sydney since the 2003 Rugby World Cup final.

''The time zone and the scheduling of the game means we're maximising the exposure throughout the world. Our planned Sunday afternoon game will go live to the West Coast USA at 8pm prime time on Saturday night. We're not talking about exhibition games - we're talking about the first three real deal competition games.''

The plan is for the series to be played in March and that the two teams - which will each arrive on their chartered 747s - will stay in Sydney for six days.

There is a symmetry about the timing and the venue - the Chicago White Sox played exhibition games at the SCG in 1914. The Dodgers' visit will mark the 100-year anniversary of that match. ''It's the cornerstone of our international initiatives,'' MLB Australia boss Tom Nicholson said ''It's a once in a 100-year event.''

But rather than being a one-off, Moore hopes the MLB will return to Australia every four years.

''In a perfect world scenario we'd like to think we could do this not only in '14 but '18, '22, '26 [and beyond]," he said. ''The big picture is to make this Dodger City on the other side of the Pacific.''

Major League Baseball is keen to further promote itself and entice new players and viewers in the southern hemisphere. The MLB bankrolls the Australian Baseball League competition, which many of the American clubs use to identify and develop prospective Majors talent.

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It's confirmed now:

SCG to host US baseball league opener

The opening series of next year's US Major League Baseball season will happen at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will play two games in March, after Sydney won the rights to host the series.

News Limited reports the NSW government spent $1 million to secure the massive sporting coup.

The event is expected to draw at least 10,000 overseas tourists, and will be seen by a global television audience of 175 million.

Sky News

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Hey, doesn't the President usually pitch the first ball of the season? Does this mean Obama is going to head Down Under for the game?

No he doesn't. Obama usually throws the first pitch at White Sox games (one of Chicago's two teams).

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Current Aussie Major Leaguers:


- Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics

- Travis Blackney, Houston Astros

- Liam Hendriks, Minnesota Twins

- Peter Moylan, Los Angeles Dodgers

- Josh Spence, New York Yankees (Minor Leagues)

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