In 2008, the Twins will double the number of Spanish-language game broadcasts from last season and work with a new partner, Latino Communications Network (LCN), to provide Spanish-language access to the baseball season for the Latino community of Minnesota.
“Baseball has traditionally had a very large following among Latinos in the U.S. and Latin America,” said Alberto Monserrate, President and CEO of LCN. “Many countries in Latin America and several cities in the U.S., like L.A., New York and Miami, with large Latino populations, have a long tradition of listening to baseball through radio and we wanted to bring that tradition to the Twin Cities.”
Starting with opening day on March 31, the Twins and LCN will air Spanish-language broadcasts of 26 games, including major league match-ups against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees and inter-league games against the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers.
“The Minnesota Twins demonstrated their interest in reaching out more aggressively to the Minnesota Latino community,” said Monserrate. “We were involved for several months in direct talks with Dave St. Peter (president of the Twins) and Patrick Klinger and we all decided to work together in not only increasing the number of Twins games broadcast in Spanish to 26, but also in marketing the Twins more aggressively in 2008 to the Latino community.”
“We are thrilled to begin a new partnership with Latino Communications Network, and look forward to providing even more Twins games to our Spanish-speaking friends,” said Patrick Klinger, vice president of marketing for the Twins, in a press release announcing the partnership.
Alfonso Fernandez will continue to provide the play-by-play, as he has done in recent years, with Twins legend Tony Oliva adding color commentary. Each broadcast will feature 15-minute pre- and post-game shows. LCN operates KMNV AM 1400 and KMNQ AM 1470.
According to Monserrate, the partnership is about more than just calling games in Spanish. “The broadcasts are not only in Spanish, but also have a sound and style that resemble broadcasts in Latin America. We are not just translating language but also culture,” he said. “We have a radio announcer in Alfonzo Fernandez, who has a long history of broadcasting sports in Spanish locally and nationally, and Twins legend Tony Oliva doing play-by-play, and La Prensa de Minnesota and AM 1400-1470 reporter Gabriel Rios doing interviews in Spanish with Twins Latino players. Our radio announcers and reporters and our newspaper reporters now have access to direct interviews with Latino players. La Prensa de Minnesota now has a special Twins section with the latest baseball news and analysis.”
The Twins believe that providing Spanish-speaking broadcasts offers a unique opportunity for the team to establish a deeper relationship with the state’s fast-growing Latino population. Current Twins including Francisco Liriano and Carlos Gomez (Dominican Republic), Liván Hernandez (Cuba), Juan Rincon (Venezuela) and Dennys Reyes (Mexico) are also partnering with the team to get more involved in the Latino community, as well as offering positive role models for Latino youth in the area. LCN is working with the Twins to have players more involved in community celebrations, such as the Minneapolis Cinco de Mayo celebration, the Latino Lake Street Festival and Mexican Independence celebrations, to promote the local Latino community.
Since the 2001 season, the Twins have offered select games broadcast in Spanish. The number of Spanish-language games has increased steadily, up from eight in 2006 and 13 in 2007 to this year’s 26 games. In the Minnesota market, the Twins were the first major sports team to broadcast games in Spanish. Currently, the Timberwolves and the Vikings also broadcast games in Spanish, with Fernandez offering play-by-play announcing.
Many major league baseball teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and Seattle Mariners, broadcast all of their games in Spanish. With this year’s increase, the Twins are currently broadcasting 26 of 162 games in Spanish, with the hopes of increasing those airings next season.
“We have a one-year contract with the Twins,” said Monserrate. “We will evaluate at the end of the year the success of our program and decide on next year. Both the Twins and LCN Media hope to double the number of games next year and eventually work up to covering all games.”