Baseball United’s UAE-based league launches this November with a showcase event hosted at Dubai International Stadium. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: There’s some good news for baseball lovers. Baseball United, the first-ever professional baseball league focused on the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, announced on Thursday a historic partnership with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB). The agreement gives Baseball United a 15-year term to host its league in the UAE, which will include games and franchises in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This marks the first time in history any international organisation has received such sanctions.

The partnership will 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 organising 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.

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Vice-Chairman Emirates Cricket Board Khalid Al Zarooni (right) with President, CEO and Co-Owner Baseball United Kash Shaikh during the signing of the historic partnership.

Pivotal role

The 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.

Vice-Chairman Emirates Cricket Board Khalid Al Zarooni: “Emirates Cricket Board has played a pivotal role in the growth of sport across the UAE for many years. Under the leadership of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan (Minister of Tolerance & Coexistence and Chairman of the Emirates Cricket Board), ECB is proud of the reputation we’ve built and the milestones we’ve achieved. Our partnership with Baseball United is another such milestone and together we will expand the opportunities for active engagement across the UAE by introducing another premier bat and ball sport to our portfolio. As the first GCC nation to pioneer this approach, we look forward to continuing to honour the UAE on an international stage.”

President, CEO and Co-Owner Baseball United Kash Shaikh: “In a season of significant milestones, this partnership with the ECB is our most meaningful to date. 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 honoured for the trust shown in our organisation 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.”

Four franchises

Baseball United’s UAE-based league launches this November with a showcase event hosted at Dubai International Stadium. It 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 later.

In addition to Shaikh, Baseball United’s ownership group includes baseball legends Barry Larkin, Mariano Rivera, Adrian Beltre, and Felix Hernandez. Albert Pujols also recently joined the organisation as its Global Ambassador and Executive Advisor to the CEO.