EXCLUSIVE-Baseball United to bring professional baseball to Saudi Arabia

Credit: REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

By Frank Pingue

March 5 (Reuters) - Baseball United has signed an agreement that gives it an unlimited term to host its professional league and tournaments in Saudi Arabia, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The partnership between Baseball United, the first professional baseball league focused on the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, and the Saudi Baseball and Softball Federation (SBSF) is expected to be officially announced this week. It marks the first time professional baseball will be brought to Saudi Arabia.

The partnership also includes rights to new Baseball United franchises representing Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam – three of the Kingdom's largest cities.

"Saudi Arabia is setting the pace for sports development, investment, and growth in the Kingdom and beyond, and we are truly honored to now include baseball within those ambitious plans," Baseball United CEO Kash Shaikh said in a copy of the press release obtained by Reuters.

"This agreement significantly elevates Baseball United's standing and footprint within the region, and, just as importantly, enables us to work at the grassroots level to help grow the game in the Middle East's largest country."

As part of the agreement, Baseball United will open a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia and partner with the SBSF to develop baseball in the Kingdom.

The SBSF, which was formed in 2019, will also partner with Baseball United to develop the national team with aims of competing in upcoming World Baseball Softball Confederation tournaments.

Baseball United began play in Dubai last November with its All-Star Showcase, the first professional baseball games in the history of the region.

The league is scheduled to announce its 2024 gameplay plans as well as its Saudi expansion franchises later this year.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

((frank.pingue@thomsonreuters.com; +1 (647) 480-7636;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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