Yesterday MLB released the new collective bargaining agreement, something that has never been done before. In this CBA, it is announced MLB plans to move thirteen regular-season series to various international sites. It doesn’t come as a surprise the United Kingdom is favored over the Netherlands, which, in fact, is old news already, but one is keeping hope alive.
From 2018 through 2021, six planned series will be played in Mexico, of which the upcoming April 2018 series between the Dodgers and the Padres might be the first.
This comes as part of a consideration to expand MLB to Mexico.
More series will be played abroad in 2018. Opening day in Asia, series in Mexico in April, series in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic in May. (The dates are flexible; the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins have been announced as the teams in a series in Puerto Rico in April.).
In 2019, MLB will play a series in the United Kingdom and an Opening Day Series in Asia.
Another series will be played in the UK in 2020, next to series in Mexico, Asia (Opening Day), the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Two more series will be played in Mexico in 2021 (April and May).
Next to all this, MLB is also planning to play spring training series in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic from 2018 through 2021. In addition, the league plans postseason tours to Japan after the 2018 and 2020 seasons and tours to what was listed as “Asia or Mexico” after the 2017 and 2019 seasons.
So a big international “expansion”. But why the UK is still beyond my comprehension. To play a game there, likely at Wembley Olympic Stadium or the Emirates Stadium, the fields of those three stadiums need to be restructured. In the Netherlands, a stadium was built with the sole purpose to lure an MLB series. It was built according to MLB standards. The grandstand is rather small, but the seating capacity can eaily be extended up to 30,000 with bleachers, thanks to a spacious area that runs along the foul lines and in the outfield.
The stadium was built, because it was said MLB was interested in playing a series in the Netherlands. In the end, this all seemed not to be true, but the stadium is still there, ready to be used. All that needs to happen is to upgrade the turf, since it was downgraded to CEB standards instead of MLB standards because the maintenance of it was too expensive.
Next to the advantage of a stadium, there is another advantage. The Netherlands is located more central in Europe, than the UK. IMO, MLB should look to the European market instead of the British alone. The Netherlands is easier to be reached than the UK.
But apparently, MLB is bothered by tunnel vision, so a series in the Netherlands will likely never happen.