The Houston Rockets play an NBA preseason game against the Indiana Pacers Thursday—in Manila. The two teams will also square off Sunday, in Taipei. The San Francisco 49ers play the Jacksonville Jaguars later this month, for the second NFL game to be held this year ... in London.
And the Los Angeles Dodgers open their 2014 season next March with two games against division rivals the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney—the first time MLB has played regular games in Australia.
This shuffling of pro teams to far-off places may seem out of order to American fans, but the moves are part of a growing trend to globalize U.S. sports, say analysts, and it's not likely to abate anytime soon.
"The American pro leagues have all had international offices for quite a long time," said Laurence DeGaris, professor of marketing at the University of Indianapolis.
"But the main reason for them staging more events overseas is because the U.S. sports market is very mature and cluttered, so the real growth opportunities lie outside the country," DeGaris said.
"And since it's an existing product and minimal additional costs, it's been a profitable venture," he added.
"If you want to be a global sport, you have to play in the overseas markets," said Paul Archey, senior vice president of international business for Major League Baseball.
"It's about the media buildup, the business partnering and getting the local fans to attend," he said. "It's a must as it gives you a local presence. You have to play globally."