PHOTO: Could a distinctly American sport be coming to London?
There are hundreds and hundreds of different reasons for wanting to visit England.
Will a Major League Baseball game be one of them?
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told U.K. newspaper The Telegraph that he discussed that very scenario with New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon last weekend after Khan was in New York and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a game.
Khan said Wilpon was “very receptive” and that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was “very keen” on the idea to having the Mets and another opponent become the first MLB teams to play a regular-season game in Europe.
“What we’re discussing with Major League Baseball is for them to come here during the summer, which works for us for obvious reasons,” Khan told the paper. “They are very excited and the commissioner is very keen. They’ve tried playing Major League Baseball in Australia. They were very receptive. The owner of the New York Mets was very receptive. We’re in discussions about MLB and we want MLB to come to London.”
Tentatively, the game would be played in the summer of 2018 at London Stadium – home of West Ham United soccer of the Premier League and host of the 2012 Olympic ceremonies.
Previously, MLB has tried to expand the sport’s brand and popularity in some obvious places with both regular-season and spring training games – Mexico, Japan and Australia.
Great Britain has been the perennial home for at least one game, and in some years two, for the National Football League as well as the National Basketball Association.
While summer sounds like an ideal scenario for London, in previous overseas ventures Major League Baseball has played these contests in late March or early April, just as the regular season is traditionally starting in the U.S., allowing teams who participate to recover from the long travel.
The only true summer scenario would be to have teams play a three-game series in London just before the traditional All-Star Break in mid-July, when clubs wrap up on a Sunday, play the All-Star Game on a Tuesday night, and resume the regular season on Thursday or Friday.