Obama to attend baseball exhibition game in Cuba

Posted: 04-Mar-16 14:52

President Barack Obama is preparing to attend an exhibition baseball match as the Tampa Bay Rays travel to Cuba to face the country's national team. The visit comes as part of Obama's diplomatic mission to the island nation this month and is expected to further strengthen US-Cuba relations.

Obama to attend baseball exhibition game in Cuba

Despite their differences, if there's one thing that the people of America and Cuba have shared over the years it's a love of baseball – and US President Barack Obama is set to celebrate that connection by attending the Tampa Bay Rays' exhibition game against the Cuban National Team this month.

The Ray's visit to Cuba will represent the first time that a Major League Baseball team has travelled to the island for any kind of game since the turn of the millennium, with the Baltimore Orioles the last side to do so when they took on the country's national team way back in 1999.

"Americans and Cubans share a love of baseball, and this is yet another powerful reminder of the kinship between our peoples as well as the progress we can achieve when we leverage those natural ties."

Said a White House official when the exhibition match was announced on Tuesday this week.

The game is set to take place on March 20 and will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, with President Obama's expected attendance revealed by SportsCentre when the news first broke.

A "memorable and significant" trip

Ray's owner Stuart Sternberg commented that his team was "privileged" to be travelling to the country in what he expects to be a "memorable and significant" trip after league commissioner, Rob Manfred, drew the MLB franchise from a bin of teams all hoping to visit Cuba on November 13.

"Major League Baseball is excited to play in Cuba and to have the Tampa Bay Rays representing our 30 clubs."

Mr Manfred said ahead of the planned trip, he also explained:

"During a time of historic change, we appreciate the constructive role afforded by our shared passion for the game and we look forward to experiencing Cuba's storied baseball tradition and the passion of its many loyal fans."

Following Tuesday's official confirmation of the game, hundreds of workers were reportedly at the Latin America Stadium to prepare the 55,000-capacity venue for Ray's visit, with constructors repairing the roof and seating areas while painters helped spruce up the stadium's faded exterior.


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