IN a dramatic transformation, the Sydney Cricket Ground has been turned into a world-class baseball park, ready to host the star-studded Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in the opening game of the Major League Baseball this weekend.
It will be the first time American baseball teams have played in Sydney since the Chicago White Sox took on a NSW side 100 years ago.
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Sydney sports promoter Jason Moore put up $2 million to convert the cricket ground into an American “field of dreams”, with 250 tonnes of clay flown in from San Diego to create the infield and pitcher’s mound.
Sell-out crowds of about 38,000 are expected at the big games on Saturday and Sunday, with almost 40 per cent of tickets sold to interstate or international tourists.
Among those in the grandstand will be Gold Coast baseball fanatics Heidi Oudsen and her 13-year-old son Cody.
“We are big Yankee fans. We have been to see the Yankees vs Red Sox in New York and my 13-year-old son played baseball with Dingo’s in Phoenix and Las Vegas, so we also got to see many Diamondback games,” Heidi told myGC.
Undoubtedly the Gold Coast’s biggest baseball fan, the young teen previously travelled to the states with his coach, baseball legend David Nilson, where they played around 15 games.
“It’s my son’s dream to one day play for the Yankees or The Diamondbacks. He lives and breathes baseball. He also wants to go to collage in the states and play collage ball,” Heidi said.
“He goes to Robina State High which is the only high school in Queensland that has a baseball program.”
Heidi will make the 10-hour drive down to Sydney on Thursday night with her brother and her son Cody, ready for the big game on Saturday night.
Who will they be backing? “Diamondbacks all the way!” Heidi said.
“There are also a few kids from Cody’s U14 Dodgers side from Surfers Paradise Baseball Club who are going down to watch the game.
“Cody can’t wait, he is very excited. It’s such an amazing thing to have happen in this wonderful country, like the movie Field of Dreams, ‘if you build it they will come’,” Heidi said.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks touched down in Sydney this morning before training this afternoon.
It’s estimated the weekend games, along with another two featuring the highly regarded Australian team on Thursday and Friday, will inject an extra $13 million into the NSW economy.
With a global TV audience of 170 million fans, the Sunday’s game will be broadcast live to the US, Japan, South Korea and China.
Food stalls at the stadium will incorporate all things American, including the 60cm All-American Superdog, Cracker Jacks (caramel coated popcorn and peanutes), an upturned baseball helmet full of nachos and Buffalo Wings (chicken wings served in a baseball mitt).