The Australian Baseball League has tonight confirmed a New Zealand team has been added to the competition.
The New Zealand team will be one of two new teams, alongside one from Korea. The two will join the six current Australian teams.
The eight teams will form two conferences, playing a 160-game season across 10 weeks. Each team will play eight home and away games against the other three teams in its conference, with cross-conference teams matching up in a single, four-game series each season.
It become the first Australian league to transition to the conference-style competition model used in the States.
Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale said the expansion of the league was a big step for the competition.
"At the beginning of last season, we set ourselves a goal to expand the league by two teams, and we are proud to have achieved that goal," Vale said.
"To have secured two expansion teams for this season is exciting for the sport, the teams and baseball in Australia as a whole. It means more games for fans to engage with, either in-stadium or from their devices."
"This season will make sporting history, as Winterball Korea becomes the first overseas team to be based and play in an Australian sporting competition. The Australian location of this team will be confirmed shortly."
"Couple that with the long-anticipated confirmation of the addition of a team from New Zealand and we are very excited for the renewed international focus of the ABL and its overall prospect of success."
With the public confirmation of five licence holders, Vale added the following comments specific to the three remaining teams.
The confirmation of the formal acceptance of a New Zealand team into the league has been a lengthy process both in Australia and New Zealand, and we anticipate making that official in the next fortnight with a venue agreement and finalisation of Baseball NZ's broader investment group the only outstanding issues.
"Similarly, the Perth Heat licence holder has been provisionally ratified and now becomes a matter of timing in terms of the public release of the details of the Heat's ownership group."
"The Melbourne Aces is the only team, existing or expansion, that we are unlikely to licence for this coming season and as such will implement an interim arrangement".
With the New Zealand team confirmed, former MLB pitcher Josh Collmenter is expected to be officially confirmed as the team's first signing.
The New Zealand team is expected to play their home games at North Harbour Stadium.
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