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Old 04-29-2003, 03:32 PM  
Oz_Chief Oz_Chief is offline
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Baseball in Europe?

Hopefully baseball can spread so all my stupid foreign friends will quit asking me, "Why is it called the World Series when there are only two countries with teams?"

When in Rome ... play baseball?

April 29, 2003


ROME -- Major league baseball's field consultant inspected Olympic Stadium on Tuesday to help determine whether the facility could be used for regular-season games next year.

Olympic Stadium, the home of AS Roma and Lazio, is an oval configured to seat 80,000 for soccer and track and field. It likely would need work to be made ready for baseball.

"This is the first visit in Europe," said Dan Bonanno, MLB's representative in Italy. "We're just getting some ideas, nothing concrete."

Some officials in the commissioner's office have looked at the weekend before the 2004 All-Star game as potential dates for games in Europe. Nothing has been decided.

Murray Cook, a consultant used by the commissioner's office, took measurements at Olympic Stadium, used for the 1960 Olympics and the 1990 World Cup final. Cook helped prepare Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the Montreal Expos and Estadio Foro Sol in Mexico City for spring training games this year between Los Angeles and the New York Mets.

"We were there today looking at all the options, doing all the calculations, checking all the logistics to see if it can be modified," Bonanno said.

While there is a professional league in Italy, the sport is largely unknown to locals.

Asked about fan interest, Bonanno said: "We're doing some market research. That's another big point."

Paul Archey, a senior vice president of Major League Baseball International, last month called Italy the "front-runner" for the first major league games in Europe. While Florence and Palermo have baseball facilities, the commissioner's office would prefer to play in the capital, where games would create more of a buzz.

"Rome is a major city," Bonanno said. "It has good transport links from the airport and is easily reachable from New York."

Baseball has been aggressively expanding its presence outside the United States and Canada, playing season openers in Monterrey, Mexico (1999), Tokyo (2000) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (2001). The Montreal Expos are playing 22 "home" games this season in San Juan, and the New York Yankees may open the 2004 season in Japan.

In November, New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza took some practice swings outside the Colosseum as part of a promotional appearance. Bonanno helped organize a baseball clinic for children in Rome led by Piazza, who is of Italian descent.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Old 04-29-2003, 05:48 PM   #2
Ultra Peanut Ultra Peanut is offline
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Quote:
Major league baseball's field consultant inspected Olympic Stadium on Tuesday to help determine whether the facility could be used for regular-season games next year.
It doesn't really matter. The Expos won't be playing there, anyways...
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