Australian Turnstiles – Australian Baseball League Confirmed
New Zealand Joins ABL for 2018/19 Season
As we reported in the last edition of The Turnstiles, the Australian Baseball League (ABL) is undergoing huge changes with expansion and private ownership for the 2018/19 season. This week the league confirmed the long-rumoured addition of a team from New Zealand. With the backing of Baseball New Zealand, the new team is likely to play out of North Harbour Stadium, located on the North Shore of Auckland. Currently known as QBE Stadium, the venue is best-known as a football stadium, having staged international rugby union, rugby league, and soccer, and has a capacity of 25,000.
Private ownership has now been confirmed for Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, and Adelaide; in a coup for the ABL, AFL’s Adelaide Crows have bought the license for the Adelaide Bite, potentially generating a huge amount of exposure for baseball in Australia. An announcement on Perth is reportedly imminent, while an interim structure will be put in place for Melbourne until a buyer can be found.
The two new teams take the total number of clubs to 8, and as a result he ABL have announced the league will now be split into two divisions. Each club will play the other teams in their conference eight times home and away, and a single four game matchup against teams in the other league.
- North East
- New Zealand
Sydney Stadium Schedule
The race is on for the NSW state government to commence their controversial stadium plan before the next election, scheduled for March 2019. The opposition have stated their intention to cancel the knockdown-rebuild of Allianz Stadium at Moore Park even if contractors have started ripping seats out. Hence the government has scheduled the demolition to commence by 31 December, with the new stadium to open in time for the 2021 NRL finals. Meanwhile work to renovate ANZ Stadium is due to start in December 2019, with a reopening target of April 2023.
No More Cricket for Eden Park?
The future of New Zealand’s largest stadium as an international cricket venue is in doubt with Cricket New Zealand publicly expressing their desire for a new stadium at Western Springs. Eden Park has a capacity of up to 50,000 and is basically a football ground, resulting in an oddly-shaped cricket oval with dimensions that don’t meet the International Cricket Council’s guidelines. Indeed, Eden Park has only hosted three test matches since 2006. Clearly a solution must be found as Auckland is home to a quarter of all New Zealand residents, and therefore to not a presence is unthinkable. Eden Park underwent a $256m redevelopment in 2010 in time to host the final of Rugby World Cup in 2011.
MCG State of Origin
The first game of the 2018 rugby league State of Origin series at Melbourne Cricket Ground has recorded the fourth highest attendance in “Origin” history, with 87,122 fans seeing NSW defeat QLD. State of Origin is a uniquely Australian concept whereby teams are selected based on where a player grew up playing the sport, and is arguably the showpiece of the game the world over. The series consists of three games with the remaining matches scheduled for Sydney and Brisbane. The league will again take a single game interstate in the each of the next two years to take advantage of new stadiums in Perth (2019) and Adelaide (2020).
National Rugby Championship
The NSW Rugby Union have announced they will provide only two teams for the upcoming 2018 NRC. NSW originally had four teams, but in recent years have culled the Sydney Stars (inner west) and now the Greater Sydney Rams (western Sydney). This latest announcement has been received poorly following the Sydney Rugby Union recently expelling Penrith from the Shute Shield club competition. The remaining teams are now the Sydney Rays and NSW Country Eagles.
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