Cuban Baseball Players Expected to Arrive in Miami, Still Have Nowhere to Play

A group of veteran Cuban baseball players is coming to Miami, but don't have anywhere to play after FIU dropped out at the last minute.

Sunday, Aug 11, 2013  |  Updated 3:44 PM EDT
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A group of veteran Cuban baseball players is expected to arrive in Miami Sunday night, though it's still uncertain if they'll play in South Florida.

Members of the Industriales team from Cuba will meet with fans and former teammates who have defected or gone into exile when they arrive in Miami, El Nuevo Herald reports.

The retired players were scheduled to play against former teammates now living outside Cuba at Florida International University. But the university abruptly canceled the game and the organizer hasn't found another venue.

Alejandro Canton of Somos Cuba Entertainment Group said he is still trying to find a stadium where the game can be held in South Florida. If none is found the players still plan to hold games in Tampa on August 23 and 24.

"We're committed to the players from the island who have been spent months preparing to play before fans in Miami," Canton told El Nuevo Herald.

Industriales is the equivalent of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. The Havana-based team was created after the 1959 revolution and meant to represent the country's workers. A number of Cubans who have defected and gone onto major success in the U.S. once played on the island with Industriales.

Canton's idea was to bring veteran players, all over 40, to play in Miami with and against former teammates that now live in the U.S. The team has legions of fans and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Florida International University agreed to host the game but pulled out less than a week after tickets went on sale. A spokeswoman said the game was being canceled due to a "contractual matter" but declined to elaborate.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has filed a public records request with FIU requesting documents related to a contract the school signed agreeing to host the games. The organization said it had "troubling evidence" the game was canceled because of fears of a hostile reaction from some community groups.

A small but vocal anti-Castro group known as Vigilia Mambisa had written to FIU, expressing its discontent over the game and asking that it be canceled. But the leader of the group said it never received a reply.

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