Major League Baseball’s upcoming trip to Japan, though scheduled for some time, has taken an interesting turn both for the future of sports gambling and sponsorship revenue.
Major League Baseball formally announced this week that MGM Resorts will serve as the title sponsor for MLB's 2019 Japan Series, a group of games that will now be known as the 2019 MGM MLB Opening Series.
However, this should not come as a total surprise, as Major League Baseball announced an initial partnership with MGM Resorts late last year. MGM Resorts was unveiled as the league’s “official gaming sponsor” in November 2018.
“We are pleased to partner with MGM Resorts International, a clear industry leader in the sports gaming area, to work together on bringing innovative experiences to baseball fans and MGM customers,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in an official statement in November. “Our partnership with MGM will help us navigate this evolving space responsibly, and we look forward to the fan-engagement opportunities ahead.”
It is also worth noting that the league’s latest agreement with MGM Resorts is in partnership with the MLB Players Association as well.
“With this relationship, MGM is reinforcing the depth of its interest in baseball. We’re delighted to welcome them as partners for this event, and our players look forward to working together more directly in ways that maximize fan interest,” said Timothy Slavin, President of MLB Players, Inc. (the business portion of the league’s union), according to Forbes.
The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics of the American League West will meet March 20 and 21 in the 2019 MGM MLB Opening Series at the famed Tokyo Dome.
As part of the MGM Resorts sponsorship deal, the Athletics will wear a jersey patch and the company’s logos will be present around the Tokyo Dome. According to Forbes, though, the Mariners “will have a different sponsor patch that has not yet been revealed at this time.”
“We are very excited to partner with MLB and the MLBPA to deliver a one-of-a-kind fan experience that celebrates baseball in Japan,” MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren , via Forbes. “We look forward to giving fans a unique experience to participate in baseball activities in and out of the Tokyo Dome.”
With legalized sports gambling making its way around the United States one state at a time, it is hardly a surprise that Major League Baseball made a statement alongside MGM Resorts overseas as well. With the two major entities somewhat quietly partnered since November, it did not take long for MGM Resorts to make an early impact on the 2019 campaign.
“In just a few months as partners, MGM Resorts has really embraced this relationship and expanded their presence in the league,” MLB Executive Vice President of Commerce Noah Garden said, according to Forbes. “MGM Resorts will have a great opportunity to engage with and experience the extraordinary passion of baseball fans in Japan. We’re excited to have our new partners become such a significant part of our games in Tokyo.”