NEW YORK (AP) – Major League Baseball intends to announce next week the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will play two games at London’s Olympic Stadium on June 29-30 next year, a person familiar with the planning told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because no public comments had been authorized.
“I’m excited about going over there,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said.
Boston will be the home team for both of MLB’s first regular-season games in Europe.
“One of the biggest rivalries in all of sports,” Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly said. “We’ll see how the players recover. And that’s always going to be big to take into account travel-wise.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan scheduled a news conference for Tuesday with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred but did not announce the subject matter.
“I’ve never been to London, so I’m looking forward to that,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Can grow our game, obviously, in Europe and hopefully getting two big teams out there will be a great thing for the sport.”
Baseball officials have long hoped for games in London and settled last year on Olympic Stadium, which is in its second season as home of soccer’s West Ham of the Premier League. Because it originally was built for a 400-meter track, Olympic Stadium is wider than other large stadiums in the London area and can best accommodate the dimensions of a baseball field.
Each player on the trip will get an extra $60,000 for participating in the games, according to baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
The NFL has played regular-season games annually in London since 2007, holding 18 games at Wembley and three at Twickenham. Three more NFL games are scheduled for this year, including one at Tottenham’s new stadium.
The NBA has played eight regular-season games at London’s O2 Arena since 2011. The NHL opened its 2007-08 season at the O2 Arena with two games between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.
MLB has put renewed emphasis on international games since Manfred became commissioner in 2015.
Cleveland and Minnesota played a two-game series last month in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego meet in a three-game series at Monterrey, Mexico, that starts Friday. MLB announced Tuesday that Oakland and Seattle will open next season at the Tokyo Dome on March 20-21.
Baseball started its season at Monterrey in 1999 (Colorado vs. San Diego); at Tokyo in 2000 (Chicago Cubs-New York Mets), 2004 (Tampa Bay-Yankees), 2008 (Boston-Oakland) and 2012 (Seattle-Oakland); and at Sydney in 2014 (Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona).
Additional regular-season games were played at Monterrey in 1996 (San Diego-Mets); and at San Juan in 2001 (Toronto-Texas), 2003-04 (a total of 43 Montreal home games) and 2010 (Mets-Florida Marlins).
Current Red Sox manager Alex Cora was part of Boston’s team that went to Tokyo in 2008 as part of a trip that included seven regular-season games, two exhibitions against Japanese clubs plus a pair of exhibitions at the Dodgers that included one at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum attended by a record crowd of 115,300.
“It was a long one,” Cora recalled. “We went to Japan, then LA for two days, then we went to Oakland and then we went to Toronto, and we survived April.”
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