London’s Olympic Stadium may not have been deemed suitable to host any Cricket World Cup matches next summer, but the venue holds no such concerns for Major League Baseball, which has confirmed it will stage two matches between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox next summer.
What is more, the two fixtures will clash with a pair of marquee World Cup matches – the 2015 finalists, Australia and New Zealand, are due to face one another in a day-night contest at Lord’s on June 29, before England and India meet at Edgbaston the following day.
The announcement of MLB’s arrival in London comes in the wake of discussions between Rob Manfred, the sport’s commissioner, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and follows the successful introduction of other US sports into the capital.
The NFL have been playing regular-season games in London since 2007, and could eventually host a franchise if the proposed purchase of Wembley Stadium by Shahid Khan, the owner of Jacksonville Jaguars, goes ahead. In addition, the O2 Arena in Greenwich has hosted an annual NBA game since 2011.
Regardless of the success of the MLB’s foray to London, two more matches have already been slated for 2020 – potentially involving different teams – as Manfred continues his push to expand baseball’s footprint beyond the confines of the US.
In April, two games between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins took place San Juan in Puerto Rico, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres played a three-games series in Monterrey, Mexico earlier this month.
Each Yankee and Red Sox player will receive an additional 44,000 to play in London.
Though World Cup officials had been keen to make the logistics work in their bid to host matches at the London Stadium, the notion was eventually ruled out due to the awkward configuration required to fit the pitch into the venue without the setting sun impeding on play.
An ICC spokesman confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they had been in discussions with MLB ahead of the announcement, adding that they had no concerns about the clash of dates.