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The MiLB has listened and is ready to treat fans this season with ‘Copa de la Diversión’

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players and fans alike will have a unique experience to look forward to this season.

In an effort to connect fans and local communities with America’s pastime, MiLB has announced the launch of Copa de la Diversión’ (or Fun Cup) — a season-long initiative designed to embrace the culture and values that echo with participating teams’ local Latino communities.

“It’s about creating awareness, inviting the community to their home,” said Kurt Hunzeker, MiLB vice president of marketing strategy and research, who’s spearheading the campaign. “It’s finally communicating a way that resonates to the community.”

Thirty-three teams will participate in the 160-game series event that will begin on April 8 in Round Rock, Texas, with the Memphis Redbirds taking on the Round Rock Express. And if you guessed it, a special cup trophy, such as the NHL’s Lord Stanley Cup, will be traveling and present at these specially designated games as part of a ‘Gira de la Copa’ (Cup Tour).

The cup will be awarded to the team with the best attendance, fan involvement and social media engagement at these games.

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For the games, players will don culturally relevant jerseys and caps that will reflect their unique and diverse fan bases. Some teams will assume special nicknames, such as the Visalia Rawhide, who will become the Toros in honor of the region’s dairy industry, and the Charlotte Knights, who will take the field as the Caballeros. The MiLB has listed all the teams and their rebranded jerseys and caps.

“We wanted each team to tell a story that is related to their market,” said Hunzeker. “It connects to the fans, reflects to the community — no catchy phrases.”

At the end of the season, each participating team will auction their Copa de la Diversión game-used jerseys and caps in which the proceeds will go directly to a U.S. Latino-focused organization in their community.

Fans can also expect Latino-themed game day experiences, such as music in the ballpark, party atmosphere, bilingual public address announcements, authentic food, social media engagement in both languages, and player interviews in both languages as well.

Hunzeker noted that over 40% of MiLB players are Latino, and over 1.7 million Latinos attended MiLB games last season. Last season, an ESPN poll found that more than 18.2 million U.S. Latinos identify themselves as MiLB fans, or 17.2% of MiLB’s overall self-designated fan base.

“It’s about better aligning with what Hispanics want at the ballpark,” Hunzeker said. “We did a lot of listening from fans who attended games last season.”

California teams participating in the initiative are the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, Lake Elsinore Storm, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Sacramento River Cats, San Jose Giants, Stockton Ports and Visalia Rawhide. Dodgers affiliates Oklahoma City Dodgers and Tulsa Drillers, and Angels affiliate Salt Lake Bees are also participating.

The initiative is a sequel to last year’s successful MiLB’s ‘Es Divertido Ser Un Fun‘ (It’s Fun to Be a Fan) marketing campaign. The campaign was similar to Copa de la Diversión except there was no cup and only four teams participated.

“Minor League Baseball is built on the fun, memory-making experiences created by our teams each and every day,” said Hunzeker. “When we introduced It’s Fun to Be a Fan and Es Divertido Ser Un Fan last season, the overwhelmingly positive response led us to create this season-long event series, further showcasing our teams’ commitment to their communities and MiLB’s unique brand of fun.”

Although there’s no plans for the MLB to adopt this initiative, the door is still open for such a possibility.

Twitter: @edmgonzalez

eduardo.gonzalez@latimes.com


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