2014 MLB opener in Sydney

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will open the 2014 season in Sydney, Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday.

The games will be played on March 22 and 23 at the fabled Sydney Cricket Ground and will be the first MLB games to be played in Australia. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play spring training games in Arizona on March 16, then leave for Australia and arrive on March 18. Arizona will be the home team for both games.

It has become traditional for baseball to open its season abroad, but until now it had played official games only in Mexico and Japan.

According to the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, the cricket grounds will be transformed into an MLB field, with the addition of infield clay, a pitcher's mound, dugouts and additional grandstands, and could net the state government there 13 million Australian dollars ($12.4 million). The series was announced by Australian politician Barry O'Farrell.

"The globalization of our game continues to be paramount to Major League Baseball, and Australia is an essential part of our long-term efforts to grow the sport," MLB commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "We look forward to writing an exciting new chapter in international baseball history at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground next March."

Union head Michael Weiner said "the players are excited about opening the 2014 season in Sydney, and they view this series as an important step in furthering their commitment to help increase the global popularity of baseball."

The Dodgers will play at least one exhibition game in Australia against a local team and, following the two regular-season games, they will return to Southern California and play the traditional three exhibition games against the Los Angeles Angels. Their regular-season schedule won't resume until a week after they return.

"We're a part of Major League Baseball and we're very concerned with the continued globalization of our sport," Dodgers president Stan Kasten said. "Promoters down there apparently told baseball they wanted West Coast teams. I will say, inmodestly, the Dodger brand is known throughout the world."

Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said "being at the forefront of spreading international goodwill on this prominent stage is a feat that we enthusiastically embrace and accept."

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks engaged in a wild brawl Tuesday night after a series of hit batsman.

The Dodgers have one Australian player, reliever Peter Moylan. The Diamondbacks have none.

Baseball opened its season in Tokyo in 2000, '04, '08 and '12. The 1999 opener was held in Monterrey, Mexico, and the 2001 season began in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.