<
>

Jalisco becomes center of attention for Mexican baseball

Mexican Formula One driver Sergio Perez throws the first pitch prior the start of the Pacific League of Mexican Professional Baseball game between Los Charros de Jalisco and Tomateros de Sinaloa in Guadalajara, last year. EPA/ULISES RUIZ BASURTO

GUADALAJARA, Jalisco, Mexico -- So what. He's a dreamer.

This is the case of Armando Navarro Peña, who has made Jalisco into one of the most important locations of Mexican baseball.

Three seasons after his comeback, the West is hosting the World Baseball Classic, that has guaranteed Jalisco success before the Mexican Pacific League and the Mexican Baseball League start. The next steps are to set up a franchise before summer, as well as bringing Major Leagues games -- either spring training or regular season.

Jalisco has exceeded the expectations, because is has recorded the best fans attendances, proving fans are anxious to see good baseball games as an alternative to Mexican soccer.

The home of the Charros had a capacity of 11,000 fans, and the information provided to ESPN reported an average attendance of 10,028 persons per game, accounting for a smashing success in the three seasons.

According to INEGI, the suburban area has more than a million inhabitants in Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa and Baja California, who followed the sport and all the events around Jalisco.

“I thought that the process would be more slow, that [it would take] five years, it was a surprise to find that it was like a sleeping lion ... we are number one arena in entertaining and number one in family events in Mexico,” said Armando Navarro in an interview with ESPN Mexico Digital.

Officials of the Pacific League have mentioned to ESPN that, together with the Culiacan Tomateros, Charros is the most important baseball franchise in México, as reported by economic, sociological and marketing research studies.

"We have achieved important things: all the 24 presidents of the 24 professional baseball teams will be coming, even though there were some problems in the Mexican Baseball League due to the Mexican-American players. It is great that all of them accepted the invitation and we consider that it will mark the union of baseball," Navarro said.

It has been made public that Salvador Quirarte, Arturo Blanco and Navarro Peña led the investors group that bought the place of the Guasave Algodoneros to make them the Charros, though certain sources have revealed that the governor of Jalisco, Aristoteles Sandoval, was an active part of the plan.

What was the process to make the dream of the World Classic come true?

"The Charros have attracted the attention of the MajorLeagues, the circumstances were favorable, I was in Mexico City on Holy Week, attending the game between the Houston Astros and the Padres; Rodrigo Fernandez was appointed as Head of the Major Leagues office in Mexico; we started the contacts right there, thank God with the support of the CONADE, federal tourism, Aristoteles Sandoval, Carlos Bremer of Value Group, we will be OK, the Major Leagues are happy and we have everything for a great WBC."

Jalisco established relationships with Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Houston Astros, that will result in the presence of Big Leagues teams in the state of Jalisco. In 2015, San Diego was invited to participate in the future Tequila tournament.

"The Charros relationships with the Padres, Dodgers and Astros have progressed; we do not take a rest, right now we are one 100 percent focused on the Classic, hoping that our Team Mexico will be able to win the games with Italy, Puerto Rico and Venezuel," Navarro said.

"We want to make history in the World Classic."