Though the island continues to deal with devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is showing considerable enthusiasm for upcoming Major League Baseball games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
As originally announced by MLB last June, the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians will play a two-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan beginning on April 17, 2018. That announcement came months before Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, as the storm made landfall last September as a category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Maria caused significant devastation throughout the island and many are still left without power.
While Hiram Bithorn Stadium did experience some damage as the result of the storm, MLB confirmed earlier this year that the ballpark would be repaired to host the series as planned. Fans in Puerto Rico have embraced the upcoming games, eager to welcome the two teams and several star players that are making a homecoming to the island. More from the Star Tribune:
Maria caused about $85 billion in damage in Puerto Rico. Depending on who you ask, 5 to 10 percent of the island remains without power, mostly in mountainous areas in the middle of the U.S. territory.
The series between the Twins and Indians was announced before the hurricane hit, but despite the damage, locals were undeterred. The games are sold out, and Hiram Bithorn Stadium (which holds slightly more than 18,000) will be overflowing with 39,000 tickets sold.
These two days will celebrate what some consider to be a golden age for the sport of the island, as young products such as Houston shortstop Carlos Correa and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor have become stars. Puerto Rican Twins Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario have gotten heroes’ welcomes.
The series will show how much progress has been made, post-Maria. And, in a place in which tourism fuels the economy, Puerto Ricans want to prove their island remains a vacation destination.
“The message to the United States is that Puerto Rico is open for business,” said Rosario, who spent Monday visiting schools in his home near Guayama. “It is still a beautiful island. Yes, there are still places in recovery mode, but most of the island is back up and is good and everyone is working hard to make it better.”
Both contests in the two-game set will count as home games for the Twins. This series marks the first MLB regular-season games to be played at Hiram Bithorn Stadium since 2010, when the then-Florida Marlins took on the New York Mets in a three-game set.