PEORIA, Ill. — The Peoria Chiefs are taking steps to connect more with the Hispanic community.
The team announced Thursday that they’ll be one of 92 MiLB teams participating in the Copa de la Diversión, or Fun Cup, program for the 2020 season.
The program started back in 2017 and was designed to be a platform to connect Minor League Baseball teams with their diverse communities and embrace the culture and values that resonate with Hispanics/Latinos nationwide.
“Copa is something that started in 2017 in an initiative for Minor League Baseball to reach out to the Hispanic community,” Jason Mott, Peoria Chiefs General Manager, said.
In 2018, the program had 33 participating teams, it grew to 72 teams in 2019 and is expected to have 92 teams by 2020.
Mott said for five games, the Chiefs will change its name to “En El Rio de Peoria,” meaning Peoria on the river. He said the players will also don new jerseys and hats with new designs.
Mott also said the games will feature Latin music, games, education and more.
City council member Jim Montelongo was also present during the announcement. He said he’s proud to have been consulted and he thinks this program evokes a powerful statement.
“This sends out just a positive message of inclusion as well as it recognizes all of its players and the community here for all that they do,” Montelongo said.
Christell Frausto, President of the Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, previously worked with the Chiefs on its Hispanic Heritage Night event. She said she’s proud to see the team embracing the Hispanic community.
“The Peoria Chiefs have been very inviting and very generous in embracing the heritage of their players and the community,” Frausto said.
Mott said last year there were 13 Hispanic players on the Peoria Chiefs team and he’s excited to create a bridge between culture and sports.
“I’m excited to see how people will react to it,” Mott said. “I think they’ll enjoy it. It’s just a new way to show that we really are inclusive at the base park and everybody’s welcome.”