Major League Baseball has revealed its fan experience plans for the Mitel & MLB present London Series, including London Yards, a three-day festival at Truman Brewery designed to celebrate all things baseball.
Running from 28th to 30th June, London Yards is aligned with the two-game series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees which will take place at London Stadium on 29th and 30th June.
MLB will partner with global experience agency Imagination to stage the festival. This collaboration follows the 2017 MLB Battlegrounds campaign with a continued focus to raise the profile of baseball in Europe.
The free to attend three-day festival is aimed at a new generation of fans, allowing them to experience the best of baseball. They will be able to watch the games live, play interactive games, and eat, drink and shop in the heart of Brick Lane, East London. DJs will be playing music inspired by Boston and New York and MLB will have exclusive merchandise on sale from partners including New Era, Champion and ’47.
In addition to showcasing MLB’s Home Run Derby VR video game experience, London Yards will also debut a newly designed immersive baseball experience - an illuminated batting cage where players aim to hit home runs via a tracking system from MLB’s partner Hittrax, which visualises the results in real-time.
Elsewhere, Play Ball Park will take place from 23rd to 30th June at London Stadium’s Community Track. Play Ball Park will serve as the hub for all youth-focused baseball and softball activity. It will include a temporary baseball/softball diamond, pitching tunnels, batting cages, and baseball virtual reality portals.
This engagement is a product of MLB’s larger Play Ball effort, which serves as baseball’s collective drive to encourage young people and communities to engage in baseball- or softball-related activities.
On 25th to 27th June, MLB will host a European Elite Development Tournament for the first time in the country. Staged at Farnham Park, National Team Training Centre, the only baseball and softball complex in the UK, the tournament will feature the 90 best teenage baseball players from 14 European countries.
Finally, commencing in late May, MLB Softball60 will serve as a social opportunity for adults in London to be introduced to the sport via an adapted version of softball. The five-week season of app-powered games will take place across four London locations, feature 30 teams in a formal league, and will include the opportunity for others to get involved via pick-up games. There will be a special showcase game scheduled during the week of the London Series.
Charlie Hill, Vice-President of International Strategic Development at MLB, said: “The UK is passionate about the thrill of sports and competition, and the popularity of US sports within the UK is at an all-time high. We want to give audiences and crowds the experience they deserve if they were unable to get a ticket to see the action on-field. We’re thrilled to show a London audience why baseball is a sport they’ll love and Imagination are the perfect partner to do this with.”
Jiri Bures, Creative Director at Imagination, added: “Entering a new market, MLB are conscious to not take audiences for granted. In the age of Netflix and instant on-demand content, eyeballs need to be earned by offering genuinely engaging experiences. Our London Yards concept for MLB takes the incredibly rich cultural aspects of baseball and turns it into the kind of new, exciting real-life experience that will truly grow people’s passion for such an amazing sport.”