The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are close to agreeing to a two-game, regular season series in London. The games will be played at the end of June at the London Stadium. Bloomberg reported it first.
The London Stadium is currently used by Premier League side West Ham United, having been the home of the 2012 Olympics. The running track makes it the most suitable venue for baseball is the Britain. The capacity is 66,000 for football matches, but it’s hard to tell at this stage how many tickets will be on sale given the different stadium configuration.
Major League Baseball has – unlike the NBA and NFL – never ventured to Europe. The interest in the sport remains far behind it’s two mainstream rivals in the United Kingdom, but demand will still be immensely high for this series. Fans from all of Europe will travel to see these two games, and there are no better sporting brands to get new people interested in America’s Pastime.
Baseball will be popular in the UK. Underexposure and minimal efforts to market the sport this side of the Atlantic have kept it very niche until now. This showcase of the biggest rivalry in the sport is an opportunity to change that and attract people who may never have considered flicking over to BT Sport to catch the Cincinnati Reds play the San Diego Padres.
Picking two east coast teams for this first MLB offering was an inevitability. The flight times make it very impractical from the pacific coast given the packed schedule. While there will be some disgruntled National League fans that British newcomers to the sport are going to be seeing a designated hitter, this is a potentially huge step forwards for MLB.
Having the Yankees play the Red Sox gives baseball the best chance of growth here. Additional exposure for two of the most recognisable names in sport feels a bit unfair, but it demonstrates that this is no mere gimmick from MLB.
They could have sent over a couple of small market teams into an inappropriate venue and called it quits. The big boys are being sent over – literally and figuratively with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge – and that can only be a good thing for all baseball fans in the UK.