Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. has announced a new multi-year international partnership with North America’s Major League Baseball (MLB).
The deal makes JTB an official sponsor of MLB’s World Tour, a set of matches where MLB teams play games outside of the US, with the travel agency set to offer exclusive international hospitality packages for the season-opening Seoul Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
The two-game series at Seoul’s Gocheok SkyDome from March 20 to 21 will be the regular season debuts of new Japanese signings Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, with the match also being the first MLB game to take place in South Korea.
As part of the MLB World Tour partnership, JTB will also be providing access for select VIP tickets and hospitality packages to World Tour events including the Seoul Series and London Series to global fans, excluding the United States.
Additionally, JTB will provide tickets to MLB regular season games to fans based in Asia as part of hospitality packages that also include travel to and accommodations in the US.
Eijiro Yamakita, JTB president and chief executive, said: “Last year we experienced a dramatic rise in demand for travel and events around the world as we finally moved beyond most challenges caused by the pandemic and now we clearly see that the market needs for real and exciting experiences are very strong.
“In this situation, we are deeply impressed by MLB’s commitment to bringing the wonderful experience of baseball games to people around the world. We are ready to create opportunities for people to enjoy baseball with our solid global network, knowledge, and hospitality.”
Noah Garden, deputy commissioner of business and media for Major League Baseball, added: “With MLB’s growing international popularity over the last decade, we have continually focused on developing and growing the game abroad.
“As we embark on an increasingly ambitious schedule of global events, we need key business partners who can match our ambitions and work closely with us to keep growing Baseball fandom around the globe. We believe JTB can provide that vital support and we look forward to working closely together on the World Tour.”
In November last year, reports suggested that MLB shelved plans to host games in the 2025 regular season in Paris, France, after failing to find a promoter.
The Associated Press stated that while hosting the games had been in the works since 2022, an inability to ensure the financial viability of the event has led to the plans being abandoned.
MLB has staged several international games in recent years and plans to host more in the future. France, however, is not a traditional baseball market with the league only having a single coverage deal in the country, with pay-tv broadcaster beIN, and minimal sponsorship presence.
London, UK, will host MLB games in both 2024 and 2026, with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies scheduled to face off on June 8th and 9th, 2024.
The Dominican Republic, another baseball powerhouse, will host MLB spring training games in 2024, and the international competition is part-organized by MLB the World Baseball Classic, in 2026.