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Shuckers wooing Cuban teams for exhibitions

Biloxi Shuckers logoThe Biloxi Shuckers (Class AA; Southern League) are meeting with representatives of Cuban teams in an attempt to promote international games at MGM Park.

Representatives of Havana’s Industriales team are in Biloxi to discuss a potential exhibition series at MGM Park at the end of the 2015 or this fall. Basically, the Industriales are the Cuban equivalent of the Yankees: the flagship team for the rich world of Cuban baseball. (For a good overview of Cuban baseball, including the Industriales and Gran Stadium, check out John Moist’s account of his visit to ballparks across Cuba.) The Shuckers wouldn’t actually be part of the games, and the exact setup isn’t final, either. From the Biloxi Sun Herald:

“The goal would be to get one or two teams to come to Biloxi to play baseball,” Bennett said….

He is working in association with Bobby Carter, director of community development at Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi.

“We’re looking at this being a collaborative effort with the entire Gulf Coast community,” Bennett said. They also are looking well beyond Cuba and thinking BIG — Biloxi International Games Baseball at MGM Park — and bringing teams from China, Korea and all over the world to play each other in Biloxi.

There’s one potential problem, though probably workable, with the plan: despite the announcement that travel restrictions with Cuba and an associated trade embargo would be lifted, they’ve not actually been lifted yet. It requires an act of Congress to change the travel restrictions and embargo, and while those changes are in the works, nothing is final. Perhaps that’s why MLB is moving very slowly regarding policies toward Cuba and Cuban players, as any final national Cuba policies are still a ways down the line. When President Barack Obama announced changes to United States policies on Cuba, many assumed the changes were right around the corner and American pro baseball would immediately rush into Cuba, but that’s not the case.

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