Baseball and business were both on the agenda when the China National Baseball Team visited St. Louis on Friday. Mayor Francis Slay and former U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond were among those who met with the team at Ballpark Village overlooking the field at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis-based Rawlings, a sports equipment manufacturer, arranged for the Chinese team’s visit in the past few months as it finalized a contract with the team. The company announced last month that it will be the China National Baseball Team’s official apparel and equipment sponsor.
Denny Coleman, CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, said Rawlings’ expansion into a Chinese market of 1.3 billion people also marks an opportunity for St. Louis job growth.
“Those numbers represent an emerging market in China and the larger Asia for significant business growth opportunities for St. Louis-based Rawlings,” Coleman said. “And success in these markets represents business and job growth here in St. Louis.”
Rawlings is not the only group pushing to move globally. Cardinals’ general manager John Mozeliak said the St. Louis team aims to expand its scouting efforts for Major League prospects. The Chinese team’s visit marks a first step in making that move.
At the summit, Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said apart from the opportunity for business growth, it was equally exciting to see the cultural exchange between people of St. Louis and China. Slay added that the history of St. Louis’ relationship with China has been rich in academia, business and culture.
“And now the China National Baseball team visit combines two cultural connections for this city: baseball and China,” Slay said.
St. Louis is one of the first American cities to have a sister city (Nanjing) in China. China is also one the city’s largest export markets.
The China National Baseball Team’s visit to St. Louis is one of many stops on their national tour.