The Dodgers, Diamondbacks and MLB made official what was reported on Wednesday morning, that those two clubs will open the 2014 regular season in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Cricket Ground, a venue that has been around since 1848, will host the two-game series.
"The players are excited about opening the 2014 season in Sydney, and they view this series as an important step in furthering their commitment to help increase the global popularity of baseball," said MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner in a release. "We thank the Australian Baseball Federation and fans for welcoming us to their country. We anticipate the 2014 Opening Series in Sydney will prove to be a memorable experience for players and fans alike."
The Diamondbacks will be the home team for both games in Australia, meaning the Dodgers will still get to play 81 games at Dodger Stadium next season.
Both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play spring training games on Mar. 16, then depart for Australia to arrive in Sydney on Mar. 18. The game on Saturday, Mar. 22 will be a night game, and the Sunday, Mar. 23 contest will be an afternoon game. There is a 17-hour time difference between Sydney and Los Angeles so, for example, games at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. in Sydney would be played at 2 a.m. Saturday morning and 8 p.m. PT Saturday night.
This is the seventh time MLB has opened its regular season outside of the United States, and the first regular season games in Australia. MLB has opened in Tokyo, Japan (2000, 20004, 2008 and 2012), Monterrey, Mexico (1999) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (2001).
"The Dodgers are absolutely ecstatic to be opening the 2014 championship season in Sydney, one of the greatest cities in the world," Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. "Our organization is committed to growing the game of baseball internationally and I’m eager to kick off our season in one of the most exciting and rapidly developing baseball markets on earth."
Baseball was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground as early as December 1888, when Spalding's World Tourists played a series of games. The venue will undergo renovations to meet MLB standards in time for the March games.