MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, will be a global sponsor for the third edition of the World Baseball Classic.
MetLife, which operates in 46 countries, will be the fourth and final global sponsor of the March 2-19 tournament, joining Delta Air Lines Inc., video gamemaker Konami Corp. and travel promoter Brand USA.
New York-based MetLife, which is working internationally with Major League Baseball for the first time, also will be the title sponsor of the all-tournament team.
“It’s a significant investment in the event that weaves them throughout all the pools,” Paul Archey, senior vice president of MLB’s international business, said in a telephone interview, declining to specify the financial value of the deal. “It’s a great fit for us because of their global exposure.”
MetLife’s Snoopy-themed blimps will provide video coverage of games. Two are based in the U.S. and one in Japan, which won the both previous editions of the tournament, in 2006 and 2009.
“In Japan and Korea, the ratings for the final games in the last go-round of the tournament rivaled that of World Cup soccer,” Richard Hong, vice president of brand, advertising & promotion at MetLife, said in a telephone interview. “It’s tremendously popular over there.”
MetLife will have television commercials running in “virtually all of the broadcasts around the world,” Hong said.
There will be 39 World Baseball Classic games played at seven venues in four countries and territories. The semifinals and championship will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco. First-round games are scheduled in Fukuoka, Japan; Taichung, Taiwan; San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Phoenix. Second-round games will take place in Tokyo and Miami.
Brazil, Canada, Taiwan and Spain advanced in qualifiers for this year’s tournament, joining Australia, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and Venezuela.