Despite a previously stated desire from Major League Baseball to play regular season games in London next year, the league has officially cancelled those plans.
As recently as this winter, MLB officials–including commissioner Rob Manfred–expressed a willingness to move a regular season series to London. London’s Olympic Stadium would have been renovated to accommodate baseball, marking the league’s first games to be played on European soil.
While steps were taken towards hosting the games next season–apparently the Boston Red Sox were expected to be one of the team’s featured–MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association decided that next year was not the right time. The two two sides are still in the midst of negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and next spring marks the return of the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
Those factors came into play in this decision. More from the AP:
“There was discussion about London early on,” union head Tony Clark said Monday. “Unfortunately there were a number of moving pieces related to London that shortened our window in an effort to try to find common ground on that happening, and we weren’t able to get it done in time.”
Dan Halem, MLB’s chief legal officer, said that ongoing collective bargaining negotiations and next spring’s World Baseball Classic kept the league from pursuing a London series for next year.
“We did not have enough time to work out all the details to play in London in 2017,” Halem said. “We continue to discuss international play with the union, including playing games in London.”
The London series alone was going to present logistical situations that concerned both MLB and MLBPA, including the teams involved, travel, and assuring that Olympic Stadium was a viable option. Those certainly factors certainly would have been difficult to address in unison with the CBA and WBC, but given MLB’s continued interest in expanding the game internationally, this is probably not the end of the discussion about regular season games in London.
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