In less than a year, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will meet at London Stadium, and Major League Baseball is making plans for the facility.
The Red Sox and Yankees will play at London Stadium from June 29-30, marking MLB’s first ever games in Europe. London Stadium is no stranger to high-profile events–it was originally built for the 2012 Olympics and has since become home to the Premier League’s West Ham United–but the June 2019 MLB series will be the first time that the venue has ever hosted baseball.
Well ahead of next season’s series, MLB is examining ways to make the facility more conducive to baseball. It will take considerable time to fully prepare London Stadium for the games, given that the league will look at completing a wide range of changes that will extend from seating to new clubhouses. Additions such as dugouts will also have to be made, leaving MLB with plenty of work to do between now and next June. More from The Guardian:
“There are a lot of additions to ensure that it isn’t any old stadium but actually built like a ballpark,” Charlie Hill, the managing director of MLB’s UK office told the Guardian on Monday. “For a number of people in the UK this will be their first time to go to a baseball game. You want to give them something that feels compelling, exciting and different and a special thing.”
This means moving seats in the stadium to create a ballpark’s intimacy, as well as building party decks and special seating areas that are normal in most US major league stadiums. But it also means making dugouts and building baseball clubhouses on the indoor running track beneath the stadium’s stands. Which is more than baseball has done in any of the other places it has gone for regular-season games.
The locker rooms in London Stadium are excellent for soccer, Hill said, yet current major league clubhouses are significantly larger with more amenities. A decision was made to create clubhouses that resemble those in big US parks.
“Especially with those two teams, they are so iconic, you want to make sure we get it right,” Hill said.
Plans for the 2019 series could have implications for 2020 as well. While the 2020 matchup has yet to be announced, MLB confirmed as part of its announcement of next year’s Red Sox-Yankees series that two teams will play a series at London Stadium in 2020.
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