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Study: MLB games deliver £37m economic boost to London

Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) first-ever regular season games in Europe granted London an economic boost worth nearly £37m (€43.6m/$48.7m), according to the findings of a new report.

The Boston Red Sox took on the New York Yankees in a two-game series held at London Stadium in the English capital on June 29-30. According to a YouGov Sport event impact study, London Series 2019 contributed a total economic benefit of nearly £37m to the London economy and £9.5m to the rest of the UK.

The figures includes spending on accommodation, food and drink, travel and retail. The survey was completed by more than 2,000 fans over the two game days.

Close to 120,000 people attended the series with many more taking part in pre-game activations and events held across the capital. Of those, 15 per cent travelled from the United States and 10 per cent from other countries around the world. Some 65 per cent of visitors travelled from somewhere in the UK outside London.

In the wake of June’s games, MLB announced that the London Series set an all-time record for merchandise sales. While MLB did not disclose a precise figure, it said a new benchmark was set for an international event for one day and series at a single venue. The London Series also surpassed three-day MLB All-Star merchandise sales figures dating back to the 2008 All-Star Game in New York.

The two games at London Stadium drew a combined attendance of 118,718. The attendance of 59,659 for the first game made it the best-attended MLB fixture ever played on international soil. It was also the most attended MLB game since 2003.

Among a host of other statistics reflecting back on the London Series, MLB confirmed that 70 per cent of tickets were sold to people in the UK, with 20 per cent sold to fans in the US, and 10 per cent to people from the rest of the world.

The new figures follow a report from UK Sport centred on the 2017 World Athletics Championships held at London Stadium, which showed that event brought in over £100m to the wider economy.

Lyn Garner, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “London Stadium’s flexibility comes in to its own for events like this and its versatility means we can attract events such as the World Athletics Championships and MLB which bring thousands of visitors – many travelling from around the world – and millions of pounds in to the economy.

“In little over one month the venue changed from a 60,000 Premier League football stadium, into a concert arena for 72,000 Muse fans and then into a purpose-built ‘field of dreams’ for MLB.”

MLB and the MLB Players Association confirmed in June that the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will play the second iteration of the London Series next year at London Stadium. The Cubs and Cardinals are scheduled to play on June 13-14, 2020.