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Major League Baseball is looking for a ballpark … in Europe

Mar 28, 2012, 4:30 PM EST

Olympics

Baseball wants to make inroads in Europe, but unlike the NBA — which can use any old arena — and the NFL — which can use soccer stadiums — baseball has a field problem. As in, there aren’t a lot of baseball diamonds over there big enough for showcase events.

Enter the London Olympics:

The biggest obstacle for MLB in Europe has been to find a facility with the right dimensions and seating capacity, and London’s Olympic Stadium is under consideration …

The London stadium will seat 80,000 spectators for the Olympics. After the games, it will be downsized to a 60,000-capacity multipurpose venue that includes track and field.

An official from MLB International is quoted as saying that, while not perfect, it could work for baseball.  Maybe not Stade Olympique or Turner Field perfect, but it could be done.

Eh. They should build something from scratch. Maybe something akin to the top-end minor league parks being built here now — think Huntington Park here in Columbus — which are fantastic facilities.  The setting for baseball matters way more than it does for other sports. If you want to sell the game to Europeans — and why else would they be doing this — sell it to them in a great place to see a ballgame.  Not an ok-but-flawed conversion project.

  1. dwishinsky - Mar 28, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    The old stadium they used for the Sydney Olympics (since converted to non-baseball use) was a nice little park. Bares bones but attractive. I enjoyed seeing games out there. Funny though, I hate Huntington Park. Cooper Stadium felt like an old-school baseball stadium and I mourned its loss when I lived in Columbus.

    • majmayhem - Mar 28, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      Outside of having an official purpose built stadium (like the one from Sydney) it seems to me any game played in a British Commonwealth, could probably use a cricket stadium, no?

      • Old Gator - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:46 AM

        No. A cricket pitch isn’t shaped like a baseball diamond at all. Totally different dimensions, geometry. And this from an American who really enjoys cricket and actually had his wedding reception in the banquet room at Lord’s.

  2. poreef - Mar 28, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    When I lived in Southern France, I never quite made it out to see the Barracudas. But from the Google Maps satellite images it looks like they have a proper field, though not many/any seats.

    (note the vineyards a few 100s of meters away)

    http://www.barracudas-baseball.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=42

    http://www.barracudas-baseball.com/pdf/baseball.pdf

  3. cktai - Mar 28, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Hoofddorp is still trying to get a 30k stadium build, but it’s hard in the current economic climate. Not to mention that, unless MLB can guarantee a series every year, there is a big chance it will end up as a white elephant. Hoofddorp failed to get an attendance of 1k during the Holland Series against nearby Amsterdam.

  4. pjmitch - Mar 28, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    “MLB in Europe ”

    Why???

    • Kevin S. - Mar 28, 2012 at 7:40 PM

      Globalizing your product can tap massive revenue streams and eventually new talent sources. Of course, it does run afoul of red-blooded nativism…

  5. rooney24 - Mar 28, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    But, who would the league hold hostage to pay for the stadium? It’s not like for every other pro franchise when they can threaten to leave unless the state/city pays for the stadium. You can’t threaten to leave if you don’t yet have a presence there.

  6. brewcrewfan54 - Mar 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    I know its about money but I don’t see why American sports all want to make inroads into Europe and everywhere else. Why do we keep trying to force our sports down others throats? Other county’s aren’t trying to shove soccer, cricket, rugby cycling, etc. down ours. Be happy making your billions off of the people on our side of the ocean. Frank McCourt’s fleecing the Magic Johnson group for 2.5 billion after driving the Dodgers into the ground shows its all about greed and nothing else.

    • Tim OShenko - Mar 28, 2012 at 10:57 PM

      All about greed and nothing else? Well I won’t deny that the prospect of an untapped market is just too tantalizing for the owners to resist. But I suspect they also think that Europeans might actually enjoy the game of baseball. After all, it’s big in Japan and South American countries, why not Europe also?

      Really, I’m all for introducing baseball anywhere and everywhere. Why not try and use it in a bid for world peace, sharing it with Middle Eastern countries and other war-torn/despotic regions? Maybe get them to expend their pent-up rage arguing about sabermetrics or the DH rule.

      Oh, and if you think other countries aren’t at least a little smug and superior about their favourite sports, try talking football with your foreign friends and time how long it takes them to bring up how much better soccer or rugby is.

  7. bennoj - Mar 28, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Rugby cycling…. now there’s a sport I’d pay to see….. :-)

    • brewcrewfan54 - Mar 28, 2012 at 6:57 PM

      For some reason though Europeans love those sports but you don’t see them trying to force Americans into loving them the way Americans want to force our sports on them.

      • Old Gator - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:42 AM

        You haven’t spent enough time talking to European sports fans, then. I lived in Europe for quite a few years and they never tire of explaining why soccer or cricket or rugby are so superior to baseball or basketball. The one thing they do seem to love, though they don’t really understand it all that well, is American football. The annual Wembly game in Britain is the most expensive sports ticket in Europe – even more than a world cup game ticket.

      • cktai - Mar 29, 2012 at 3:22 AM

        Not sure where you’ve been in Europe, but the professional leagues over here seems to suggest something else. Here in the Netherlands we have a professional baseball league and a professional basketball league (despite being ranked dead last in the ULEB league rankings). The local gridiron club on the other hand plays on a field behind my baseball club, and I never seen any interest from supporters in that club.

        It is also noteworthy that many Europeans play in the NBA while many try to get in the MLB, while none ever play in the NFL. That is all because of local popularity. The reason why the Wembley game is popular is because it is the only event in the whole of Europe that showcases professional gridiron, while basketball and baseball have domestic leagues, european leagues, and international matches between countries.

        As for the tickets. According to Wembley the tickets range between 50-100 pounds. Tickets for the football World Cup final of 2006 ranged from 120-600 euros and for the 2007 Rugby World Cup final of 2007 from 200-600 euros.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Mar 29, 2012 at 9:38 AM

        I wont deny that they may consider their sports superior to ours but I’ve never heard any of them talk about trying to make any of those sports more popular over here while we seem want to make them watch ours.

      • bravojawja - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:06 AM

        Who’s “forcing” anything on anyone? Somehow I doubt MLB is able to require anybody to purchase a ticket to a game. (Forcing a team to change leagues, however….)

  8. simon94022 - Mar 28, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Keep baseball over here, and let them keep soccer over there.

    • Old Gator - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:43 AM

      I agree with the second half of your statement entirely. Backandforthandbackandforthandbackandforthball belongs someplace else. I can tolerate it at summer camps and even as intramural fun here, but…that’s more than enough.

  9. APBA Guy - Mar 29, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    Stade Olympique, the future home of the Athletics? In the immortal words of Guy le APBA:

    “I am so bored”.

  10. irishatbay - Mar 29, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    As an Irish Baseball fan (Padres fan!), presently living in Argentina, I would love to see the professional game expand into Europe. Both my son and I played Amateur Baseball in Ireland, and the game may be a minority sport in Europe, but it does have a fab base that can only be increased by MLB bringing matches across the water.

    As for other sports being better or worse, is like comparing apples and oranges. Personally I love Rugby, Football (the original one), Cricket, and obviously Baseball, Am Football and to a degree Basketball (the last 2 minutes of a tight game!), but I don’t get Ice Hockey, but so what!

    Let’s see MLB invest in developing the game in Europe, and more in the Southern Cone of S America, the talent pool is there – Build it, and they will come…… So to speak…

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