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SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to increase awareness of the Hispanic and Latino heritage, Minor League Baseball teams are engaging in their second year of games focusing on Hispanic communities.
The Salt Lake Bees are one of 72 teams within the league participating in the Copa de la Diversión, or Fun Cup, which is double the participation from last year when only 33 teams participated.
The Bees will take on the name of "Abejas de Salt Lake," which is Bees translated in Spanish, and their new logo represents the letter A with a beehive in the center decorated with pink and green colors.
"Since no other sports property attempted what we planned for Copa de la Diversión, we did not have a baseline to judge success," Minor League Baseball vice president of marketing strategy and research Kurt Hunzeker said in a prepared statement. "We (MiLB and participating teams) worked for three-plus years researching and developing the Copa platform, and we knew that if we built an authentic, culturally relevant campaign, our entire fan base — not just Latinx fans — would embrace it."
Last season was the first year the league implemented these games, and they were successful all around. Attendance was 24.4% higher at these themed evenings, according to the league.
Teams have rebranded with new uniforms and names, and they have adopted Spanish translations of the team names for their new identities. New team names include the Lansing Locos, Llamas de Hickory, Montañas de Chattanooga and the Clinton Elotes.
Along with these themed games, the teams will compete for the Copa de la Diversión, which is the trophy awarded to the team that best displays the message of the movement.
The objective the league has in mind, according to milb.com is, “increasing awareness, authentic engagements and attendance with U.S. Hispanics/Latinx in its local community; embracing U.S. Hispanic/Latinx community and culture that is passionate about baseball, family and fun by updating its ballpark experience to match the values this specific fan segment cherishes most; creating and embracing culturally-relevant on-field personas that authentically connect the team with its local U.S. Hispanic/Latinx community; and amplifying MiLB's continuous effort to diversify the game and business of baseball nationwide.”
The league wants teams to be as engaging and representative of the communities they are speaking for. In addition to increasing participation and attendance at games, they want to celebrate each athlete and the different backgrounds they come from.
Last year, 29.8% of the players in the league were Hispanic, and they receive a lot of support from their clubs while they are playing. In the rebrandings, some athletes were asked to play a part in the process.
The Abejas currently have seven players on their active roster who are from Spanish-speaking countries. During the 2018 season, there were 19 players on the roster from countries such as the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela.
The final two Abejas-themed games this season will take place on July 19 at 7:05 p.m. against the Las Vegas Aviators and Aug. 3 at 7:05 p.m. against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.