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London seals long-term deal to host regular-season MLB games

London Stadium is set to host more regular-season Major League Baseball games in the coming years as part of a new long-term strategic partnership between the city and the league.

The agreement, announced yesterday (Monday) by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and MLB commissioner Robert Manfred, includes a commitment from the league to hold major events in London over the next five years.

The partnership will see London Stadium, home of Premier League football club West Ham United, host regular-season games in 2023, 2024 and 2026.

An MLB London Legacy Group has also been formed and will include members from the Greater London Authority, Baseball Softball UK and other key stakeholders in the UK. The group will focus on delivering a wide-reaching and long-term legacy programme that maximises the impact of hosting regular-season MLB games in London.

London hosted two MLB games between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the summer of 2019, with a total of 120,000 fans in attendance across two days. The series, which marked MLB’s first-ever regular-season games in Europe, provided a boost worth nearly £37m (€43.2m/$45.6m) to the London economy, according to a YouGov event impact study. MLB had planned on returning to London in 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic forced games between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals to be cancelled.

MLB Europe will continue to conduct new London-based fan engagement events, including Home Run Derby X, a new baseball format which will take place in the city’s Crystal Palace Park on July 9. Home Run Derby X has been designed to frame baseball in a fun and unique way to new audiences.

Following the signing of London’s strategic partnership with MLB, Mayor Khan said: “Today is an historic day for London and baseball. I want to continue attracting world-class sport to our city as part of my mission to make London the sporting capital of the world.

“This long-term partnership with Major League Baseball is ambitious and includes regular-season games as well as a legacy programme designed to grow the number of Londoners watching and playing baseball at a grassroots level in London. These games will be a fantastic opportunity to once again showcase the London Stadium as a multi-use venue and a fantastic asset for the capital.”

Manfred added: “All aspects of the inaugural MLB games in London were an overwhelming success. It was clear that sports fans in London had a great appetite for baseball and that passion was shared by Mayor Khan as well as the business and media community.

“We are confident in making a long-term commitment to London and are looking forward to returning to the city with more MLB games, special fan events, and other opportunities to play and watch the game.”

Image: Dan Poulton on Unsplash