GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- More than two million fans come through the turnstiles each year at Chase Field, and among those are countless tourists from around the globe. If the events of last week have the desired effect, many future visitors will be coming from Guadalajara, the second-largest city in Mexico.
Led by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a contingent of Phoenix dignitaries and business leaders visited the city, which has a metropolitan area of 4.5 million people, on a trade mission and protocol visit. The D-backs were represented by legendary outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who serves as a special assistant to D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall Sr., and D-backs senior vice president of communications Josh Rawitch. The duo also represented Hall and the D-backs during a Mayoral trade visit to Mexico City in April.
"We hope that every time we are fortunate enough to make a trip outside of Arizona, we can represent the D-backs and our city with pride and encourage people to visit the Valley and see a D-backs game," Gonzalez said. "We always feel at home when we visit Mexico, and we want businesses and baseball fans throughout Latin America to know that our doors are always open."
More than six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico, while 200,000 jobs in Arizona are related to tourism. The trade mission was in advance of the inaugural flight from Guadalajara to Phoenix on an inexpensive Mexico-based airline, and those fortunate enough to be on that flight received a new hat from the D-backs and a T-shirt from the Phoenix Suns, who had also taken part in the trip. The state of Jalisco is considered the birthplace of mariachi, so it was only fitting that the flight included authentic singers complete with violins, trumpets and guitars.
"We are so proud to represent this great delegation from Phoenix," Stanton told those on the flight back to Phoenix on Saturday morning. "We love our relationship with the people of Mexico, and we hope that many of you will continue to visit our city for great shopping, sporting events, museums and so many wonderful things that will make you want to come back many, many times."
During the visit, the D-backs' representatives had the opportunity to meet with the Secretary of Sports and Secretary of Tourism from Jalisco, as well as the mayor of Guadalajara. The duo also toured the facilities of Club Atlas, one of the most popular soccer teams in Mexico, and shared ideas on how to grow their respective fan bases.
Among those on the trip were city council members Michael Nowakowski and Tom Simplot, Mexico's consul general based in Phoenix Roberto Rodriguez, Arizona Chamber of Commerce president & CEO Glenn Hamer, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president & CEO Gonzalo De La Melena and David Farca, a member of the Super Bowl 2015 Host Committee.
The 22-person delegation also toured the historic area of Guadalajara on Friday and visited with the Chambers of Commerce of Guadalajara and neighboring Zapopan. A memorandum of understanding was signed to increase trade among the cities, and it was noted that a recent study showed the purchasing power of U.S. Hispanics is greater than the gross domestic product of all but 14 nations in the world.
The trip marked the D-backs' fifth visit to Mexico during the past two years, including three stops in Hermosillo, where the team has played several exhibition games over the years. Last year, the D-backs made a goodwill visit to Japan, and earlier this year, the D-backs hosted the World Baseball Classic, as they continue to be leaders in the expansion of baseball internationally.
Over the next month, two different groups of D-backs executives and players will visit Sydney, Australia, in advance of next year's Opening Series, March 22-23 (dbacks.com/Sydney). Among those making the trips will be Hall, Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and D-backs special assistant Craig Shipley, the first Australian to play Major League Baseball in the modern era.