General view outside Citi Field on June 25, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, “the Águilas Cibaeñas and the Tigres del Licey, of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana (LIDOM), have accepted the preliminary terms of an agreement to play an exhibition series at Citi Field in New York next November.”
Rojas tweeted the news on Saturday in Spanish.
No official announcement has yet been made on who will be the home or away team during the three-game exhibition series.
The winner of the three-game exhibition series will receive the “Titanes del Caribe” Trophy in either game two or game three at Citi Field in November.
The Aguilas Cibaeñas and the Tigres del Licey of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana will play three exhibition games at Citi Field from November 10-12 after the 2023 Major League Baseball season, Dionisio Soldevilla of Diario Libre, a news outlet based in the Dominican Republic, reported on July 28.
ESPNDeportes.com also stated the responses from both the owners from both organizations about the agreements for the three-game exhibition series.
“We are already on the same page. Last Thursday we sent a summary of the mandatory conditions for Licey, which also applies to Águilas, and the organizers approved all the important points,” stated by Ricardo Ravelo, President of Tigres del Licey.
“The only thing missing is to have a black-and-white contract,” said Víctor García Sued, president of Águilas Cibaeñas stated to ESPNDeportes.com
Two news media entities from the Dominican Republic, Hoy Dominicana and Diario Libre, reported last year that Yankee Stadium was being examined as a site to host a three-game series between Tigres del Licey and Aguilas Cibaenas.
Yankee Stadium is unavailable that weekend due to a football game between Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh on November 11, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the first college football game at the original Yankee Stadium.
“Having Águilas and Licey play in New York will be a great event for a community that fully identifies with their culture and tastes. It is an event that has guaranteed success in advance,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-New York 13) on ESPNDeportes.com. Espaillat was the first politician from the Dominican Republic to serve in the New York State Senate and first in the U.S. Congress.
Schedule changes will be made by LIDOM officials so the Tigres and Aguilas can play in New York that weekend. The Tigres were supposed to play the Estrellas Orientales on the road in San Pedro de Macoris on November 10, and the Aguilas were scheduled to face the Leones del Escogido in Santo Domingo.
On November 11, Aguilas was scheduled to play Gigantes del Cibao in San Francisco de Macoris, and the Tigres were scheduled to play against their inter-city rival, the Leones del Escogido, at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal.
On November 12, the Tigres were scheduled to be the home team against Leones del Escogido in Santo Domingo, while the Águilas were going to play Gigantes del Cibao at home in Santiago.
Those games will be rescheduled for a later date prior to the beginning of the league’s round robin playoff in late December.
The three-game series at Citi Field will be the first time that two Caribbean professional teams from the Dominican Republic have ever played a set of exhibition games during the regular seasons for the winter league in New York, as well as the first time playing at a neutral venue during the regular season. The only time during the winter leagues where two teams play in a neutral venue is during the Caribbean Series outside of the host country.
The only time Latin American club teams have played in an exhibition series in the United States during the winter league season was for the Serie de las Americas in Miami at loanDepot Park in November 2015 with four clubs from both the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Tigres del Licey and Aguilas Cibaenas participated in the event along with Navegantes del Magallanes and Cardenales de Lara from Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional. Aguilas Cibaeñas won the Serie de las Americas in the only year it was hosted, beating Cardenales de Lara in the bottom of the ninth inning 4-3 from Zolio Almonte’s two out two-run single.
The three-game exhibition series was officially agreed on July 26 at the National Palace in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with LIDOM President Vitelio Mejía and the President of the Dominican Republic Luis Abinader in attendance. The games will not count toward the LIDOM regular season standings.
According to ESPNDeportes.com, “Promoters are seeking a five-year deal, the Dominican teams would not want to commit beyond two years, but that is a point that will likely be subject to special clauses. Although this year’s matches will be exhibition matches, future events will be with official games on the LIDOM calendar.”
The Tigres del Licey played in the championship final of the 2023 Caribbean Series against Leones del Caracas of Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional at Estadio La Rinconada in Caracas, Venezuela, winning 3-0 for their 11th Caribbean Series title, the most by any organization in Latin America. They had not won a Caribbean Series championship title since the 2008 tournament prior to the 2023 event.
Aguilas Cibaenas has the second-most Caribbean Series championships with six. The Aguilas’ last championship was at the 2021 Caribbean Series against Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas in Mazatlan, Mexico, at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, where they won 4-1 in the championship game under former manager Felix Fermin.
The 2023-24 LIDOM regular season will start on October 19, with three games slated for opening day. The Santo Domingo series between the Leones del Escogido and the Tigres del Licey will be at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal at 7:15 p.m. EDT. The Gigantes del Cibao will travel to Santiago to play the Aguilas Cibaenas at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Estadio Cibao. The Toros del Este will play the Estrellas Orientales a 7:30 p.m. EDT at Estadio Tetelo Vargas.
“We have already reached a preliminary agreement and we are now sending the documentation to the lawyers for the parties. We hope to have a signed contract and a formal announcement with all the details as soon as next week. On Monday we have to sign the Citi Field rental agreement with the Mets,” Dr. Rafael Lantigua, a member of a New York promoting group that manages the project stated to ESPNDeportes.com.
No television deal has been set yet in either the Dominican Republic or the United States to broadcast the three game exhibition series at Citi Field. All LIDOM regular season games will be streamed on MLB.tv until the final out of the best-of-seven championship series in January right before the 2024 Caribbean Series in Miami at loanDepot Park from February 1-9.
2023 Tigres del Licey vs. Aguilas Cibaenas Exhibition Series Schedule
All Games at Citi Field, Flushing, New York
Friday, November 10 – 6 p.m. EST
Saturday, November 11 – 1 p.m. EST
Sunday, November 12 – 1 p.m. EST