14ymedio, Havana, 19 March 2016 – “Do not applaud when Barack Obama enters and do not wear caps or hats,” are some of the verbal warnings that accompany the entry tickets that are being distributed for the baseball game between the Cuban team and the Tampa Bay Rays on 22 March at the Latin American Stadium in Havana. The National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) has announced that the game will be by invitation only.
The tickets are being handed out to members of the Communist Party, the Young Communists Union and trusted officials, according to information from several sources. Military training schools such as Camilo Cienfuegos, located to the east of the capital, will also bring their students dressed in plainclothes, to fill the stands of the Cerro colossus.
Directions include not bringing bags or phones, “not even the key to your house,” says Gonzalez, an accountant in a state company where the invitations have been distributed to party members and administrative cadres. “We must be there several hours in advance and we can’t bring bottles of water nor any other liquid,” he adds.
Inder’s decision was published Saturday and has already raised concerns among the followers of the national pastime. At the “Hot Corner” in Central Park where baseball is the constant topic of heated discussions among its avid fans, the measure has not been greeted warmly. “In the end, the real fans of the game are going to be left out,” complains Luisín, a frequent attendee of these sporting discussions.
The suspicion is shared among many baseball fans, although INDER has clarified that invitations will go to “fans from all the municipalities in the capital, labor and student centers, members of sports clubs and other faithful followers of this discipline.”
Around the stadium and in the access area strict security controls will consist of several cordons, and protection measures similar to those for an airport will be applied. “There will be metal detectors at the entrance,” said an employee.
The US president will visit the Latin American Stadium with a delegation including cabinet members, members of congress, senators, a part of the diplomatic corps settled on the island and other special guests. Raul Castro will also be present. Television and national radio will broadcast the game live.
The 30 Cuban players who, under the leadership of Victor Mesa, will face the Tampa Bay Rays franchise of Major League Baseball (MLB), trained for the moment at the San Jose de Las Lajas Stadium, while the final details were being worked out at the Latin American Stadium.
This week the Cuban Federation announced the selection of three catchers, 10 infielders, six outfielders and 11 pitchers, who will face the northerners, in what will be the second game of its kind since 1959. The first was 17 years ago between a national team and the Baltimore Orioles.