With a genuinely fascinating idea for cementing European fandom post-London, it’s Les McCaughan.
This is a hypothetical look at what Professional Baseball might look like in Europe in 10 to 20 years time, if the MLB London Series is the success we all hope and believe it will be. And bearing in mind the impracticalities of a London MLB Franchise, at least until someone invents Star Trek style Transporters!
Remembering we’re now in the year 2028, and we still haven’t been wiped out by Skynet!
Major League Baseball has held 7 London Series in the last 10 years, and they’ve been an undoubted success. With fans clamouring for more baseball, and an increase in playing numbers, with a host of new amateur teams across Europe, MLB themselves will see there’s a talent pool and fan base that needs to be nurtured.
Hot on the tail of the first 4 game London Series between the Montreal Expos and the Toronto Blue Jays (Tampa Bay relocates to Montreal by 2024). MLB announce a press conference to reveal their plans for Europe’s first fully professional Baseball League, and it will be the first fully fledged Minor League outside North America.
The European League would initially start with 6 teams across the continent;
The cities of course are hypothetical…
Each team would play a 60 game schedule, facing each of the other teams twelve times between June and September. With the 1st place team going into the best of 5 Euro Series, facing the winner of a three game play-in between the 2nd and 3rd placed teams.
Rosters could be made up with draft picks, rookie and A ball players, with each MLB club will be required to designate a few players each to start. At least half the roster spots initially should be taken up by European prospects, with the goal of expanding the number of homegrown players season on season.
The ultimate goal for this league is to have rosters exclusively made up of Europeans, and then at that point it could look to expand to 8 teams and maybe more.
For the homegrown players themselves the Euro League would take the place of College Baseball and Rookie A level, with the best going on to graduate to AA and AAA in the United States. And ultimately we will see more players from the UK and Europe in the Majors.
What about infrastructure?
As part of MLB’s continued international expansion they will invest $$$, creating centres of excellence with ballparks of up to 10’000 capacity for Euro League teams to play. These would be built either at existing local baseball parks or brand new from the ground up.
This will allow players and fans to have the full baseball experience.
The next question is why would this succeed when more popular sports Leagues like NFL Europe failed?
First of all it’s baseball, it doesn’t cost nearly as much to to run a Minor League baseball team as it does a Professional American Football team, even at a development level.
With the full backing of MLB this League shouldn’t have any problems finding partners and sponsors, to help reduce running costs.
We also wouldn’t have the same player attrition levels as Gridiron, and it’s a lot more accessible for youngsters growing up, especially once the teams open Youth Academies and start local age grade teams.
If MLB are looking for a way to lay down roots following the London Series, how about this? Us enthusiasts would definitely come!