After the news about the addition of a Korean team to the six-team ABL, it was only a matter of time before the league would announce the addition of an eighth team. Today, the league announced through their website it will add a team from New Zealand as well.
After news about the Adelaide Bite and the Brisbane Bandits turning into private entities, the league explained the expansion to eight teams today. With eight teams, the ABL will become the first Australian sports league with a divisional structure. The eight teams will form two conferences playing a 160-game season across 10 weeks. Each team will play eight home and away games against the other three teams in its conference, with cross-conference teams matching up in a single, four-game series each season.
The divisions will look like this:
Cam Vale, the CEO of Baseball Australia explained that at the start of the last season, Baseball Australia and the ABL had set a goal to expand the league by two teams.
“This season will make sporting history, as Winterball Korea becomes the first overseas team to be based and play in an Australian sporting competition. The Australian location of this team will be confirmed shortly.”
According to Vale, “The confirmation of the formal acceptance of a New Zealand team into the league has been a lengthy process both in Australia and New Zealand, and we anticipate making that official in the next fortnight with a venue agreement and finalization of Baseball NZ’s broader investment group the only outstanding issues.”
The official announcement about the New Zealand team will follow in the coming days.
A few weeks ago, the league announced the new owners of the Sydney BlueSox and the Canberra Cavalry. Now with the Adelaide Bite and the Brisbane Bandits, the number of teams with a license has come to four. The Perth Heat is also working on a license by a new owner. The Melbourne Aces are the only team without a licensee. For this team the league will look for an interim solution.
Vale is confident that future expansion of the ABL is not far away and that the new teams will be a combination of Australian and overseas teams. The next step is a 10-team league followed by a 12-team league.