North America’s Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced East Coast rivals the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies will be the next teams to face each other as part of its World Tour next year.
The league returns to London, UK, this weekend (June 24 and 25) with two regular-season games between the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs after a four-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The clash was originally to be played in 2020 as a follow-up to the league’s inaugural London Series, which saw the New York Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox in front of sell-out crowds in 2019. However, the following year's games were canceled due to pandemic travel restrictions.
On the eve of the Cardinals-Cubs series, MLB has confirmed London Stadium will again play host to next year’s regular season games between the Mets and Phillies on June 8 and 9. All games will be broadcast live in the UK on public broadcaster the BBC and pay-TV operator BT Sport.
It will be the Phillies’ first games outside the US in their 140-year history, while the Mets have played overseas three times in Mexico (1996), Tokyo (2000), and Puerto Rico (2010).
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said: “We think our game is at its best when we have traditional rivals playing and we want to show the fans here in London the very best form of baseball.
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“To us, London is a really important part of our international strategy. We have seen great growth in baseball since we were here in 2019 … We’re going to make this part of our regular program and are looking forward to being back next year.”
Next year’s series is part of the league’s MLB World Tour, an international slate of games approved in the labor agreement between MLB and the MLB players’ association struck in March that will see the league widen its global exposure.
The agreement includes plans to stage games in London in 2024 and 2026, France in 2025, annual Mexico games from 2023 to 2026, an Asian opener in 2024, and a Tokyo opener in 2025.
Mets owner Steven Cohen said: “Interest in baseball is growing all over the world and to bring the Mets ‘never-say-die’ attitude to sports fans in London is a tremendous honor.
“Our Queens [New York] family is ready to show London a great time with exciting baseball and amazing experiences that create new fans and build the Mets community throughout the UK.”
John Middleton, Phillies managing partner and chief executive, said: “It is an honor to be selected for the 2024 London Series.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our players’ talents to a new audience. It is also a great chance to play in front of the large contingent of Phillies fans who reside in the UK.”
Last August, MLB re-hired UK-based international agency CSM Sport & Entertainment to support the delivery of its games in London after successfully staging the 2019 edition.
Under that role, CSM is responsible for event marketing, ticket strategy, and sales, hospitality product development and sales, strategic planning and production of venue operations, player transportation, sports presentation, and the wider fan experience on game days.
For a deeper dive into MLB's revived international plans, read here.