At the end of last season, MLB withdrew its 75 percent support from the Australian Baseball League. The question was if the ABL would continue. But on the 3rd of August, the league announced its schedule for the upcoming 2016/2017 season starting on November 17.
Without the support of MLB, Baseball Australia will fund the league but the number of games has been reduced from 55 to 40. Baseball Australia will be looking very carefully at what its options are available whether that’s franchising, operating licences or the sale of shares in the future. “We’ll have to use our very, very limited amount of resources and get creative with our marketing and promotions for the league.”
Since the restart of the league in 2010 the league had a hard time luring fans to the ballparks in Sydney and Melbourne. Also poor performances by the teams did not help to attract fans.
Baseball Australia says that it has to streamline operations) to help them make costs more manageable and in line with Baseball Australia resources. Chief executive, Brett Pickett, said that Baseball Australia has to use its very limited resources and get creative with their marketing and promotion of the league. One of the options is to privatize teams, but that will be an option for the next season. But with the poor attendance in Sydney and Melbourne, this may mean that those teams will move elsewhere.
With MLB withdrawing its contribution to the league, the money is not all lost as MLB redirects the funds to the development of sport in Australia. This includes a three-year partnership of the High Performance MLB Academy on the Gold Coast.
If the ABL will not be able to reshape its operational framework, the league will be in trouble. But Pickett has confidence that the league can do so.