Venezuela’s political situation has been a well-covered mess since the death of former President Hugo Chávez, but up until now it had not yet critically affected the nation’s most popular sport. That has changed, as El Universal reports that both of Caracas’s premier baseball teams, Leones de Caracas and Tiburones de La Guaira, are in search of a new stadium before opening day in October.
Up until last season, both clubs paid rent to the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) in order to play their home games at the Estadio Universitario de Caracas, an arrangement that had worked before the country’s economy crashed in recent years. Due to the sharp drop in attendance and revenue, the clubs can no longer afford to pay the university, and in fact they still owe money from last year’s lease. The university, predictably, is not ok with that, and they have revoked access for both of the capital state’s teams.
New Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional (LVBP) president Juan José Ávila has only been in office for a week, but he has made the Caracas stadium situation one of his first priorities. Along with a commission created with the purpose of finding a solution, he has reached out to other cities for temporary homes; stadiums in San Félix or San Cristóbal have been considered as possible fixes, and even the military base Fuerte Tiuna is on the table as a location.
This is not the first time that something like this happened in the Venezuelan capital; in 1975, the two teams joined forces to play home games in Acarigua (roughly 6 hours from Caracas) as the Llaneros de Portugesa, or the Tibuleones colloquially. While it’s unlikely that the solution this time around will be a merger of the teams, nothing can be said for sure in the era of President Nicolás Maduro.
What Ávila is adamant about is that the league is taking this very seriously: “It’s not good for anyone for Caracas to be left without baseball. We’re maintaining conversations with the UCV Foundation and the affected clubs in order to find a solution.”