Saturday, December 12, 2009


This week, we bring you the text of our exclusive interview with Omar Canizales, the first-year president of the Mexican Pacific League. To our knowledge, it’s the first interview Mr. Canizales has given in English.
Our apologies for not having audio on the BBM radio program due to technical matters beyond our control…

BBM: How did you become President of the LMP, Mr. Canizales?

Since I used to work as the National Sponsorships Director for the FEMSA Brewing Company, which is one Mexico’s top two beer companies and owner of the “Tecate” beer brand, I knew the League, the clubs, and most of the LMP Presidents. This was the key for being invited as one of several candidates nominated for the league’s presidency.

I was one of five candidates who were invited to introduce ourselves during a LMP Presidents meeting. Each one of us presented his curriculum and related experience. I made my presentation specifically over the marketing, sports and commercial areas, plus I added a Power Point slide show that illustrated a brief personal vision about what I thought the LMP should be. After that, I was elected as LMP President on May Seventh of this year.

BBM: What are your duties as LMP President?

To keep and enforce every rule and regulation governing the league, making sure all the associated clubs comply with them;

To administer in the most clear and efficient way all the financial and operative resources of the League;

To reach new commercial goals for the league and its clubs and improve the attendance at the ballparks in a coordinated work with every club;

To represent the Mexican Pacific League before organizations such as Major League Baseball and the Caribbean Baseball Confederation and to defend the interests of our eight associated clubs;

And to promote and disseminate the League and its clubs’ achievements in the most accurate way.

BBM: There have been very few LMP franchise moves from one city to another for many years. How has the Mex Pac been such a stable league?

First of all, the league is composed of presidents with a high moral value and with the economic solvency capable of facing the costs of maintaining a franchise in the Mexican Pacific League.
Also, they understand their social responsibility with the communities where they have a presence. And, of course, all of this comes tied up with a high-level sporting spectacle, of which its strong fan-based structure is very proud.

BBM: Are there any rules or requirements that franchises must meet to keep an LMP team in their city, or to move a team to another city?

Basically, every franchise has to keep all the rules and regulations governing the league. They also have to maintain a highly competitive team at the very same level with every other franchise. The clubs must guarantee they will have a ballpark which will comply with professional baseball regulations to play and receive the visiting teams. The franchises must maintain a dignified stadium to greet fans.

But, if by any reason, a franchise wants to move, it is necessary for it to comply with the follow requirements:

First, we must get a formal letter from the State Government where the proposed new city is located, endorsing the relocation project.

Second, we must get a formal letter from the Municipal Government from the proposed new city, endorsing the relocation project.

Finally, there must be an Official Financial and Operative Project proposal that guarantees the capacity to maintain a LMP Franchise.

BBM: There was a preseason tournament in Tijuana this year. Is the LMP thinking of putting a team in Tijuana in the future?

Tijuana is a great city for playing baseball: It is well-located, has a great population, and most important it has a huge base of fans for baseball.

However, the preseason tournament is not necessarily linked to any expansion project. We do not reject this possibility at all, as long as there is a serious project fulfilling all the requirements I commented on previously.

BBM: With no formal affiliations between Major League and LMP teams, how do Mex Pac clubs usually import players from the USA to Mexico?

Actually, we are associated to the Caribbean Baseball Confederation, through which we benefit, as a league, from the Winter League Agreement, signed with Major League Baseball. This agreement sets the terms and conditions that allow us to bring players from any Major League organization, either from a Major League Team or any affiliated Minor league team.

Let me tell you that just a few days ago, the Caribbean Baseball Confederation held a meeting in Puerto Rico where Caribbean League Presidents discussed and agreed upon the terms and conditions that will govern the new Winter League Agreement of the upcoming year’s confederation.

BBM: Has the rise of the Arizona Fall League had an effect on the number and quality of import players coming to play in the LMP?

We have been affected indeed, since some of the Major league organizations send players over there. However the effect is not severe, thanks to the fact that there are still a lot of talented players from MLB organizations that we can get our hands on.

BBM: How important has the TV deal between the Mex Pac and Megacable been in bringing LMP baseball to the rest of Mexico this season?

It has been very important. First of all, it has been great for our project to massively spread information about our league. Second, there’s the fact that our games used to be broadcasted to only three states in Mexico, but nowadays our televised game broadcasts are reaching up to 23 states, which means a huge improvement and better commercialization opportunities, as well. And certainly we are talking about a great economic contract, since it’s the most profitable TV deal ever signed by the LMP.

BBM: Does the LMP do much marketing of the league and its players to the USA, especially states like California, Arizona and Texas?

Not right now, but we are already working on some ideas on what we can do over the next few seasons.

BBM: Have you been able to find a good balance between the time you spend working for the LMP and the time you spend at home with your family?

Yes, I have. You know, the city where I live today allows me to eat my meals at home and attend my daughter’s and son’s events at their school as well as going out for fun with my wife, either to the ballpark or social events. My former jobs demanded a whole lot more business trips. Today I’m very happy with my duties, and the balance I have reached between my work and my family.

BBM: Thanks for joining us, Mr. Canizales. It’s been a pleasure.

Bruce, as President of the Mexican Pacific League, I want to thank you for the coverage you’re giving to our baseball. I also want to thank the people that are following your broadcast for their interest in our league. I want to invite all of you to attend to our games, the next time you visit Mexicali, Hermosillo, Obregón, Navojoa, Los Mochis, Guasave, Culiacán or Mazatlán. You will enjoy a baseball game of a high level, and will experience our “fiesta del béisbol”. Once again, thank you very much. I hope see you soon in our ballparks.

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