VP of MLB Western Operations

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Laurel Prieb, VP for MLB Western Operations – the man in charge of Major League Baseball’s Phoenix office – talks about Arizona as a growing hub for baseball.

Ted Simons
>> Major League Baseball has an increasing presence in Arizona. indeed, several years ago MLB. opened an office in Phoenix. joining me now is a person in charge of that office, Laurel Prieb, major league baseballs vice-president for special projects. thank you so much for joining us. why an office in Phoenix?

Laurel Prieb
>> you know, a few years ago, when i was with the Brewers at the time, I was approached by the president of baseball, and the notion was that we just have too many teams, too far from New York where our main headquarters is. and so Bob indicated at the time, asked me to think about it with the thought of having opening an office out here for baseball, a small office. but a primary function, several functions, but a primary one to work -- make the world smaller, if you will, for all the teams in the west. and so with that, after thinking about it and deciding to jump in to the league side, moved out here. and now fast forward four years, I stay in particularly close touch with the 10 most western teams. so Houston and all points west. and do a lot of things on the business side in particular. making visits to them, holding best practice sessions here in Arizona where the teams come in on various business components of what they do. and it's gone well, and hopefully we're doing some good.

Ted Simons
>> talk about Arizona as a hub for baseball. increasing presence here, it is because of spring training? it is because of the fall league? A little bit of both? why the focus on Arizona?

Laurel Prieb
>> in fact, going back to your previous question, which answers this one, when bob had approached me with the notion of moving to the west, he pretty much opened it up that we could open this office wherever we wanted to do it. so whether it be here, or whether it be southern California, or wherever it would be. but after giving some thought to it, it seemed obvious that the place to have it would be in the valley. the notion being that you have spring training here, so you've got two months that so many teams spend two months of the year here, you've got the fall league, you've got kind of a central hub for all the teams in the west. you've got probably more current and former major league players who reside here than anywhere else in the country. so you put all that together, and it just made sense to open the office here.

Ted Simons
>> we talked about the fall league. let's talk about the future of baseball in Arizona. do you see an additional fall league for the valley?

Laurel Prieb
>> the fall league in its current form has been terrific. and to revisit, the fall league is a two-month league in the fall in which all 30 teams send their best young prospects, a lot of them with double A experience, some have had major league experience, but for further development to where the best can play against the best. and it's been very successful, and the alumni of the fall league is such that on any given fall league season, you can count on probably over 50% of the league being in the major leagues within a year or two thereafter. so it's a great opportunity to see the up and coming talent. to your question about additional fall leagues, there is some consideration of perhaps doing another league at another time when it would start is still subject to speculation. and whether it would be here is also subject to speculation. but to take perhaps a younger class of the best prospects. the regular fall league is more double A and triple A and some major league experience, but perhaps taking that younger class of kids that again are very much blue chippers and put them in their own league, we've had a form of that in Hawaii the last couple three years, and I think there's some consideration to perhaps repositioning that. and whether it be here, which has gotten some internal discussion, or somewhere else, continues to be at play. but if it would occur, and there are compelling reasons I think for something like that to occur, it would that much more add to the momentum up that baseball is established I think in a big way in Arizona.

Ted Simons
>> indeed. and established with that momentum. what is Arizona doing right? I know Florida has a history as well, and I'm not sure if this kind of growth is happening in Florida. maybe it is. but Arizona in particular. what are we doing right to attract this kind of thing?

Laurel Prieb
>> i think you saw with the climate, which is so compelling, particularly in the spring and the fall. it just can't be beat. the weather is just so consistent. and in a game in which you play every day, and you count on consistency, both in your players and the schedule, and if you can get them from the weather, so much better. that certainly helps. yet you have such a great critical mass here of industry, and baseball fans. I think in many ways sometimes it's discounted that this is just a baseball hotbed. people seem to love baseball here, they always have, it's always been a stronghold for baseball. and i think it always will be a stronghold. and the diamondbacks have taken advantage of that in smart ways, and it goes throughout beyond diamondbacks though, filtering down through the college and high schools, throughout youth leagues, and this is a baseball place. and i think that is also picked up by professional baseball as we look at the whole situation, and having more baseball here just is an easy thing to do.

Ted Simons
>> very good. thank you so much for joining us.

Laurel Prieb
>> thanks for having me.

Laurel Prieb:Vice President,Western Operations, Major League Baseball

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