US MLB signs deal with Beijing Enterprises to build baseball academies in China
Major League Baseball has signed a 10-year partnership with state-owned Beijing Enterprises Real-Estate Group Ltd to help grow the sport in China.
The partnership will focus on expanding the number of baseball facilities in the world’s most populous country. The aim is to build at least 20 development centres where Chinese students ages seven to 12 can learn baseball skills alongside a normal academic curriculum.
Extremely popular in nearby Japan and South Korea, baseball has been slow to gain traction in China. In 2015, the General Administration for Sport of China proposed a 10-year plan to develop baseball into a 50 billion yuan (US$7.59 billion) industry with more than 20 million viewers.
As of now, more than 80 Chinese colleges and universities field baseball teams, up from less than 40 in 2012. MLB’s three existing development centres in Wuxi, Nanjing and Changzhou have sent three players to MLB clubs.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres played a series of preseason games in Beijing in 2008, and the leagues have continued to send players and coaches to China to promote the sport. Last year MLB signed its first national media partnership in the country, a three-year deal with Jack Ma-backed Le Sports.
Beijing Enterprises Real-Estate Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Enterprises Group Company Limited. The unit is also active in ongoing construction for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.