Thursday, May 03, 2007

Baseball Economic Roundtable on Latin/Asian Major Leagues

Roger Noll, a smart guy from down at Stanford, took part in a roundtable discussion at the Biz of Baseball blog, and had an interesting thing to say during the open topic segment:
Baseball has not yet found an effective way to exploit business opportunities internationally. The same can be said of other American pro sports, but baseball probably has the largest unrealized potential for international play. In the immediate future, the greatest opportunity is for a genuine baseball World Cup among national teams, featuring mainly players from Major League Baseball. But in a decade or so, rising incomes in Latin America and Asia could make “major leagues” (with some teams equivalent in quality to MLB) feasible there, in which case an international club championship, like the Champions League in European soccer, also would become attractive. Does MLB have the entrepreneurial capability to take the lead on these issues? Based on its feeble attempt at a baseball world championship in the spring of 2006, baseball seems in danger of missing these opportunities.
The major question for me is whether these leagues will be created home grown, like a new Pan-Asian circuit being born out of the current Japanese/South Korean/Taiwan leagues or whether MLB will just expand into these markets. Personally, I'm hoping for the homegrown option with a Euro cup like competition between the leagues.

Because MLB is already so ingrained with the Latin leagues, I'm much less hopeful for a homegrown option there, even though I think it would be great.

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