Baseball Australia is keen to press its vision to link up an Asian bidder to Tasmania as the next expansion side.
An expression of interest from Taiwan-based Chinese Professional Baseball League earlier this month almost makes it certain to be one of the two new franchises in the Australian Baseball League.
The model to expand the national competition further to 10 clubs for the 2019-20 season would follow a similar path to the Korean-backed Geelong entry this summer.
Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale said the discussions in Taiwan has now pushed Tasmania to the forefront as a possible host.
“So as we look at potential cities and states to host them, Tasmania is a key site that stands out to me,” Vale said.
“Having come back from Taiwan, a lot of business traits and the imports from Tasmania makes it the more appealing place to look at bringing sport and business together to make this work.”
Vale said, Tasmania as a smaller market to capital cities, much like Geelong, would ideally fulfill key criteria for a foreign-backed franchise.
Two spots will be named in March next year. Wollongong is heavily favoured, as Gold Coast and North Queensland join Tasmania in the frame.
“We are just very keen to bring baseball in a big way to Tasmania,” Vale said.
“So to facilitate the growth of the game, we think a state like Tasmania would catch on with its own senior league at its grassroots level.
“Definitely having one key country as a backbone of the [ABL] team will benefit them.
“But the vision will be a little bit different to that of the Korea-Geelong model.”
The bulk of players will be emerging Taiwanese talent, but the roster will add several Australians and to filter in rookie recruits from a US Major League Baseball affiliate.
Vale said the “insatiable” appetite of baseball’s appeal in politically sensitive Taiwan has heightened interest into gaining a foothold in the Australian winterball market.
Taiwan, under the banner of Chinese Taipei, is ranked No.4 in the world behind Cuba, USA and Japan. Australia is ranked 13th in the world.
Vale added the deal with the island nation that has the same population of Australia would reap financial benefits for the state of little more than half a million people.
“The purpose of the branding and strong link with one country like Taiwan does build the business model for Tasmania,” he said.
“What comes off the back of that is a broadcasting deal to ensure all those games are shown not only to Taiwan, but Asia, Australia and, also really, the rest of the world.
“That would really give us the commercial model to make it successful to introduce baseball into the state.
“No matter how we would get a team out of Tasmania, it’s going to need heavy international influence to do it.”