Baseball United launch Dubai Wolves and Abu Dhabi Falcons as two new franchises - GulfToday

Baseball United launch Dubai Wolves and Abu Dhabi Falcons as two new franchises


Kash Shaikh, Felix Hernandez and Adrian Belter pose during the launch of Abu Dhabi Falcons and Dubai Wolves.

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

In a groundbreaking move, Baseball United unveiled its two new franchises – Dubai Wolves and Abu Dhabi Falcons – which will play at the Dubai Showcase event in November.

Baseball United is the first-ever professional league of the sports in the Middle East and Indian sub-continent.

The inter-country league will have four teams – Dubai Wolves, Abu Dhabi Falcons, Mumbai Cobras and the Karachi Monarchs.

The four teams will battle it out for the top honours in the Dubai Showcase event, which will be held over three days from Nov.10 to 12 at the Dubai International Stadium.

Monarch and Cobras will get the ball rolling, which will be a watershed moment in the history of the sport as it will make its maiden foray into the Middle East and South Asia.

This is for the first time in a cricket-mad region, baseball will try to find its feet. Sub-continent boasts of around one and half billion cricket fans with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan put together.

“This is a historic day for our organization, for baseball, and for the UAE,” said Kash Shaikh, President, CEO, Chairman of the Board, and Majority Owner of Baseball United.

“We are so grateful and proud of these two milestone franchises that we now get to share with our fans across the UAE.

“The Dubai Wolves and Abu Dhabi Falcons will be iconic brands that inspire millions of people here in this great nation, and all across the world,” he added.

The ownership group includes award-winning

business leaders and inspiring baseball legends, including Mariano Rivera, Barry Larkin, Adrian Beltre, and Hall of the Fame pitcher Felix Hernandez.

These new franchises are announced on the heels of Baseball United’s historic partnership with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), which awarded Baseball United a 15-year term to host its

league in the UAE, as well as gave the league rights to both the Dubai and Abu Dhabi franchises.

This agreement marked the first time in history any international organization has received such sanctions. Baseball United will be working closely with the ECB to bring the worlds of bat and ball sports together in two of the world’s most sports-focused cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“The partnerships that we continue to forge here in the UAE have given us the momentum and support necessary to build this league the right way,” said John Miedreich, Executive Vice

President of Baseball Operations, Vice Chairman of the Board, and Co-Owner, Baseball United.

“We are grateful to all the people and organizations who have joined us in this pursuit, and we’re looking forward to even more partners teaming with us in the future,” he added.

Revealing his magnanimous future aspirations for the league, Shaikh stressed to have chartered out a map.

“It is a bit too early but we have plans to take this league to the other parts of the GCC. We will take it to Doha and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“In the first season, a total of four games will be played with every franchise playing two games each to get the taste of the sports in this region.

“Next year, we will have eight franchises and subsequently the number of matches will be increased by many folds. Currently, we are the owners of all franchises, but soon we will announce the ownership of new franchises,” he explained.

Commenting on the fanbase of the sports in the region, Shaikh pulled out data which revealed some staggering figures to the astonishment of attendees.

“What prompted us to launch this professional baseball league in this region is the presence of a strong and avid fan base here. When we were starting this project, we thought of catering to some hundred thousand Americans here.

“But after a research report by a very reputable company, we came to know that there are avid 50 million baseball fans only in India, 12 million in Pakistan and over 300 thousand in the UAE. They are not cricket fans, they are baseball fans with a higher income group and more updated,” he added.

Answering the question on how difficult will it be for baseball to find its feet in a region, which so far has been ruled by cricket single-handedly.

“It is going to be a big challenge for us. I have seen this stadium jam-packed during Indo-Pak clashes while I have also witnessed empty seats during other matches.

“This is scary as well as an opportunity for us. It is going to be a daunting task. We are going to face some challenges. We will also look to cash in on Indo-Pak rivalry in cricket. Hope, we can bring the same rivalry into baseball as well when Mumbai and Karachi franchises face off,” he added.

Due to the cross -border tension between the south Asian giants, any sporting event garners unprecedented attention and interest from the fans and media alike.

Indo-Pak cricket matches are the most-watched sporting events, with a viewership surpassing that of the FIFA World Cup final even.

The organsiers are hoping that the Mumbai and Karachi matches will generate the same interest among the people which will work as a catalyst in making the sport popular here.

“With perseverance and determination, we know that we can reach our goal of bringing a billion new fans to the game over a span of time.

“We started this journey nearly two years ago. The barriers to entry were incredibly challenging. The difficulty level is high. And this dream of ours will most definitely not be easy.

“But today was one of those magical reminders that if we keep believing, keep building, and keep our focus on our current and future fans, we can help make baseball the region’s next great sport,” he concluded.

Related articles