In an article at the website of FOX sports about MLB Spring Training games in Cuba, a short quote about MLB games in Europe stated that MLB has been discussing playing games in London. They think about that city because other leagues (NFL and NBA) drew large crowds when playing in England’s capital. The only problem seems to be to find a suitable stadium that can house a proper baseball field.
So how about playing games in the Netherlands? According to topsportamsterdam.nl, MLB has promised to have a couple of MLB games played in Hoofddorp, a town near Amsterdam, when a stadium would be build there according to MLB standards. That promise in the shape of a contract was made two years ago. The construction of the required stadium was finished last year. A state of the art facility with a capacity of about 600. I know this sounds ridiculous but the capacity can be expanded to 30,000. But it is not about the capacity alone. The turf, the dirt and yes even the locker rooms are made to MLB standards. Those games would be appointed for the 2014 or 2015 season.
The stadium in Hoofddorp
And guess what, despite this ballpark, the Netherlands haven’t been named ever since. 2014? Australia. 2015? Nowhere, but there were serious talks with Chinese Taipei. And now London?
Maybe we Dutch were naive enough to believe that MLB would really appoint games to our tiny country. Don’t we have the strongest national team in Europe (nr. 5 in the World Ranking)? Don’t we have one of the strongest competitions in Europe? Don’t we have a long baseball history? Sure, baseball was played in the UK long before it became popular in the Netherlands. But the game has developed steadily overhere. And in the UK? Not so much (with all due respect).
I realize that the UK is a much bigger market than the Netherlands, but why isn’t MLB looking to the bigger picture? Europe that is. When they are looking at a European market, the Netherlands is situated more central than London. There is a stadium ready to be used by MLB players. The only adaption that needs to happen is to expand the seating capacity. No extra work needs to be done to create a diamond. So how difficiult is that Mr. Manfred and Mr. Clark?
Maybe we Dutch baseball fans were naive enough being kept hanging on a string by MLB. I hope that MLB is pulling up a smoke curtain and that the games still will be played in the Netherlands.
I sincerely hope that I am wrong about this, but it is up to MLB to prove me wrong.