Regular visitors to BaseballGB will already know that MLB has been looking at the potential of bringing some games to London, with talks going on for over a year as to how that may be achieved.
The Telegraph has now picked up on the story as plans to use the Olympic Stadium in London have progressed to a more advanced stage. MLB aren’t formally commenting on the rumours at the moment, but there are positive signs that we may get to see some MLB games in the UK in 2017, which will be a real treat for baseball fans here and across Europe.
To add one more detail to the story, I noticed a few weeks ago that Murray Cook, who does a variety of work in relation to MLB and baseball grounds-keeping, was in London recently.
One place he visited while here was the 2012 Olympic Stadium, at the time set up to host an England vs New Zealand rugby league fixture.
— Murray Cook (@cookmurray) November 3, 2015
This may have just been part of Murray’s wider outlook on his profession and looking at different venues and how they can be adapted for different sports. However, it’s likely he was undertaking a bit of reconnaissance work around converting the stadium for baseball purposes. MLB International’s Clive Russell is quoted in the Telegraph article (a quote from 2012) that “[the] stadium, the way it’s built, actually is big enough for a baseball game … It’s not perfect, but it has some real potential”.
As I’ve previously noted, outside of getting a suitable venue, the main hurdle for MLB in bringing games to Europe is how to fit the travel and time-difference issues within the jam-packed regular season schedule, as the previous international game route of playing games during Spring Training in March isn’t a realistic option due to the less-than-ideal weather risk.
The most likely scenario will be for the games to take place around the All-Star break in mid-July (the 2017 All-Star Game will be in Miami).
Nothing is guaranteed until deals have been agreed and signed, but there’s definitely reason for baseball fans to get a bit excited about the prospect of MLB coming to the UK in July 2017, if not within a few years of then.