The first-ever professional baseball league focused on the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, Baseball United announced today a historic partnership with Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
The partnership will allow Baseball United to host the league in the UAE for a term of 15 years including games and franchises in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
It will also allow Baseball United to help drive the commercial and community-focused growth of baseball within the UAE at the youth, amateur, and professional levels.
As part of the terms, Baseball United will be responsible for organizing all aspects of its league, including facilitating stadium partnerships, scouting and signing players and coaches, driving community engagement, and leading all marketing and operational activities of the league.
ECB will handle government-focused communication, regulations, and policy work, as well as leverage its deep understanding of cricket to help advise Baseball United on relevant issues.
“In a season of significant milestones, this partnership with the ECB is our most meaningful to date,” said Kash Shaikh, President, CEO, and Co-Owner of Baseball United.
“This is an unprecedented agreement that will enable both Dubai and Abu Dhabi – two of the world’s most attractive cities – the opportunity to be the launchpad for professional baseball in the Middle East. And, importantly, it ensures that Baseball United will be playing baseball here in the UAE for many years to come. We are honored for the trust shown in our organization by the ECB and its Chairman, HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, and we are grateful for their vision and support. We will now work alongside each other to bring the worlds of bat and ball sports together here in the UAE," Shaikh said.
The Middle East and South Asia are home to two billion people, one billion of whom are cricket fans. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, particularly amongst the fast-growing nations of the Indian Subcontinent.
According to Baseball United’s research, there are over 65 million avid baseball fans within the region as well, providing a strong foundation to begin building and growing the sport within its diverse, sports-loving communities. Baseball, referred to as “America’s Pastime,” has been played professionally in the United States for nearly 150 years.
Baseball United’s UAE-based league launches this November with a Showcase event hosted at Dubai International Stadium. The Showcase will include the league’s first four franchises, two representing the UAE, as well as the Mumbai Cobras and Karachi Monarchs, which were revealed in recent weeks.
The Mumbai and Karachi franchises are the first professional baseball franchises in the history of India and Pakistan, respectively. The names of the UAE-based franchises will be announced at a later date.
In addition to Mr. Shaikh, Baseball United’s ownership group includes baseball legends Barry Larkin, Mariano Rivera, Adrian Beltre, and Felix Hernandez. Albert Pujols also recently joined the organization as its Global Ambassador and Executive Advisor to the CEO.