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MLB Commissioner confirms London 2017 talks

by Matt Smith

We’ve been covering the rumours of MLB coming to Britain for a couple of years and they picked up again a few months ago with more definite reports on timescales and venues, namely the potential use of the Olympic Stadium in 2017.

At the time, MLB itself was being coy about all of this talk, in the standard ‘neither confirm or deny’ state.

However, that changed yesterday. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has just reached his one year anniversary after taking over from Bud Selig and he has been doing a series of interviews with different reporters as a result.

In one of these with the Associated Press, picked up by ESPN.com, Manfred directly confirmed the plans. As reported by ESPN:

“Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told The Associated Press that the league is looking to play its first regular-season games in London in 2017.

“We are very interested in playing there, and we’re working hard on that one,” Manfred told the AP during an interview on his first anniversary as baseball commissioner. “I don’t think it will be an opener because of the weather issues. It would be later in the season.”

Baseball has been looking at the Olympic Stadium as a possible venue. Manfred wouldn’t discuss the possibility of shifting a high-profile matchup, such as Yankees-Red Sox, to England.

“We haven’t really settled on teams, and I don’t want to speculate about that,” he said. “Obviously, we want to make as good a first impression in Europe as we possibly can.”

So, whilst we don’t know which teams will be here, and it’s not confirmed as yet that everything will be in place for 2017, that definitely counts as strong reason to start getting excited.


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JJ January 26, 2016 - 3:33 pm

“Weather issues”?! They play the World Series in worse weather than we get in April! Pursues…

JJ January 26, 2016 - 3:34 pm


John January 26, 2016 - 10:31 pm

I know you consider this a positive in terms of growing the game Matt, but I’m afraid this screams shameless cash-in for me.

Matt Smith January 27, 2016 - 8:48 am

There is a potential ‘cash in’ element, but that doesn’t concern me at all as MLB aren’t going to go to all the trouble of coming here without getting something out of it. The benefits are the potential to go to a game or two for us baseball fans already here and a showpiece event that can be used to promote the sport. Okay, we haven’t got a pro/semi-pro league to feed on from it, but there are a growing number of baseball and softball clubs in Britain (many having blossoming youth/little league set-ups) and they will all be doing a huge amount – alongside the respective Federations – to capitalise on the publicity to promote themselves. It’s not going to suddenly make thousands give up cricket or football, but any increase (again, especially with kids taking an interest, as has taken off with softball in schools in recent years) has got to be a good thing.

John January 27, 2016 - 11:23 am


I take your respective points, and I suppose only time will tell. The Opening Series between the Dodgers and the D’Backs (attendance 40,000) has done little to grow interest in the game in Australia at domestic level (anybody who watches ABL.tv will attest to that, where crowds can regularly be counted in the hundreds), and I see no reason why a single series in this country would have a similarly negligable effect. I agree that it is still a great opportunity for existing UK baseball fans (of which their are relatively few) to watch live MLB without the expense of travelling Stateside…just don’t expect it to act as a watershed moment for the game in this country.

Bertie January 27, 2016 - 1:13 pm

I think you just have to approach this as a fan. A single series may not have much impact on the future of British baseball, but it can do no harm, and in the meantime, we have the most exciting baseball event – live MLB in the UK!! What can possibly be wrong about that? 🙂

Ross March 12, 2016 - 7:11 pm

Wow, this would be bloody fab! Fingers crossed!

Jonathan Pettit March 3, 2017 - 3:17 pm

I’m surprised that there has never been mention of running one of the minor leagues in Europe. It would raise interest in the game and overcome the horrendous travel difficulties associated with having any MLB franchise based in Europe. We would be able to see fairly good up and coming players who we night then follow as they graduate to the Major Leagues…and so raise interest in the game this side of the atlantic,

Matt Smith March 4, 2017 - 4:20 pm

Nice idea. I guess that would be a little like the old NFL Europe programme. Sticking point is always that you’re not promoting the sport with the premium product (that’s why NFL switched to their international games, and what MLB wants to do too) so I guess the question would be how much interest it would create among casual fans (obviously, without considering the logisitical side of the players being moved/based over here)


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