Professional Baseball Coming to Cuba?

Following the recent end of the United States embargo on Cuba, officials representing Minor League Baseball are working hard to organize a professional team in Havana, Cuba.

Jake Matise, Columnist

After the United States and Cuba reached an agreement that would end the long-standing U.S. embargo on Cuba, an idea has been in the works that would make Major League Baseball (MLB) even more diverse and expand its territory into the Caribbean. Owners and high-ranking officials have been looking into adding an expansion team for Minor League Baseball (MiLB) ever since the embargo was lifted, and even some time before that.

The proposal would add a AAA team to Havana, Cuba. AAA is the highest level of the minor leagues. The team would be affiliated with a major league team, although talks haven’t progressed far enough yet to decide which MLB team the Havana team would be affiliated with.

Lou Swechheimer of the Caribbean Baseball Initiative is the businessman behind this idea. His group includes former U.S. ambassadors and has licensing approval from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The company currently owns controlling interest in other multiple minor league teams but does not wish to relocate any teams to Cuba. However, the teams could be involved in goodwill exhibition games or equipment donation in Cuba.

Personally, I really hope this goes through. International exposure like this can only help a sport grow, which is the ultimate goal. Plus, it really helps to make baseball a universal sport. Actually, this wouldn’t be the first time that Cuba has a minor league baseball team. Back in the 1950s, the Havana Sugar Kings were the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, but the team was relocated due to increasing tensions between Cuba and the United States.

If a team is added in Cuba, it unfortunately won’t happen soon. It will be in 2017 at the earliest, as it takes the approval of MLB and MiLB for something this big, as well as finding an MLB team for the new team to be affiliated with. However, I believe it is definitely worth the wait for an event like this, as it will benefit both sides.