Many athletes on the United States’ most beloved sports teams were born and raised in foreign countries. While this has been a trend for many years in professional sports, foreign investors may start building the stadiums where these professional athletes play, as well.
In Tampa, Florida, the Rays Major League Baseball team and its fans are calling for a new stadium. With improvements to the stadium likely to cost around $500 million, Tampa’s Chamber of Commerce has been looking into foreign assistance through the use of the EB-5 U.S. visa program, according to Tampa Bay Online. The EB-5 visa program gives wealthy foreigners and their families green cards if they invest at least $1 million in a project based in the United States and create at least 10 jobs within two years of the project’s start date.
Leaders from Tampa’s and St, Petersburg’s respective Chambers of Commerce have been looking into working with Chinese investors. While both chambers agree that the current stadium should be improved or replaced, neither city has said much about the future location of the stadium, according to TBO.
Baseball has seen exponential growth in the number of foreign-born players in the MLB in recent years. Of the 856 current players on MLB rosters, 243 are native to foreign countries, according to The Associated Press. These percentages were slightly higher in 2005 and 2007, when nonnative players accounted for 29.2 and 29 percent of all players, respectively.
The percentage of foreign-born players is even higher in the minor leagues, where 3,382 of the 7,278 players were born outside of the United States. Players from the Dominican Republic make up the largest percentage, followed by Venezuela, Canada and Japan.