Citing increased popularity of baseball in China, Major League Baseball International (MLBI) announced today that it will formally open a baseball development center in Wuxi, China on September 23. The Major League Baseball Development Center will be the first MLB baseball training facility in China that provides professional baseball training for middle school and high school-aged students within an academic school environment.
The MLB Development Center is located at Dongbeitang High School in Xishan District, Wuxi, which is located in the eastern part of China on the Yangtze River . The center has an international team of baseball instructors.
“One of the chief goals of Major League Baseball in China is increasing the popularity and participation of the game of baseball among young athletes,” said Bob DuPuy, President and Chief Operating Officer, Major League Baseball, who will be in China to participate in the opening ceremony of the MLB Baseball Development Center . “The establishment of the MLB Development Center demonstrates Major League Baseball’s commitment to expand the sport in China and to aid elite players in reaching their full competitive potential.”
In 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres met in the first-ever Major League Baseball games played in China during Spring Training. MLB China Series 2008 was held at the Wukesong Baseball Field in Beijing, the host venue for baseball during the 2008 Olympic Games, on March 15 and 16 and showcased MLB Clubs for fans in China for the first time. Later in 2008, Curtis Granderson, center fielder for the Detroit Tigers, became the first current Major League Baseball player to tour China promoting the game of baseball as an MLB International Ambassador.
MLBI launched Play Ball!, a grassroots youth baseball program, in elementary schools in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin and Wuxi, China in 2007. Participating students are introduced to the rules of the game and instructed on developing their baseball skills as part of their in-school physical education programs. To date, the program has provided free baseball training and coaching instruction to 120 elementary schools reaching more than 120,000 children in China .
Outling baseball's interest in China from a business perspective, Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. has a representative office in Beijing, holds a yearly China Baseball Academy for elite young players, has licensed more than 80 MLB shops throughout China and has granted leading sports channels rights to broadcast MLB games in China, including the MLB All-Star Game and World Series.
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