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Reports circulating say Major League Baseball may play a few regular season games in Europe in the near future.
Several knowledgable MLB sources said Bud Selig, MLB commissioner, was poised to announce games played in Europe as his last great initiative before he retired from his post in January. Among other accomplishments, Selig has been at the baseball helm for expansion of league efforts throughout the world.
Regular season games have been played in Japan and Australia at the beginning of the season for several years now. Games that count also have ben played in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the World Baseball Classic, played every three years, has generated increased international interest in the game. Baseball programs and leagues have sprouted in many locations from Russia and Israel to the Far East and beyond.
Several sources were tweeting the news. Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal said Selig was hopeful that an announcement would be made soon with London and the Netherlands viewed as potential landing spots for regular season games. Jon Morosi of Fox News said Amsterdam was viewed as being the best prepared to host games next year.
While England hasn’t fielded teams in the WBC, London has been the scene for several successful regular season and exhibition Nation Football League games. The Dutch are viewed as having better baseball infrastructure. The Dutch team has done well in the WBC even reaching the semifinal round in previous years.
The New York Times has reported that a $15 million ballpark expansion at Hoofddorp, Netherlands could expand that stadium to 30,000 seats. Hoofddorp is an Amsterdam suburb, about 15 miles from downtown near the airport that is home to more than 70,000 people.
Hoofddorp stadium officials have said they were renovating the stadium to meet MLB standards up to and including locker rooms of more than 4,000-square-feet. They also have installed a gravel, silt and clay field similar to those at MLB ballparks.
Most recently, MLB opened the 2014 regular season with games between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2012 regular season kicked off in March with games at Tokyo between the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners.