American businessmen, including one of the owners of legendary baseball team The New York Yankees – which is worth approximately $1.5 billion – are promoting an initiative to establish a professional baseball league in Israel.
The businessmen visited Israel and held meetings with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development Silvan Shalom and Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat, in which they asked for their assistance.
As part of the initiative, the businessmen proposed to build a baseball stadium near Yerushalayim’s Teddy Stadium, which will serve as Israel’s central baseball hub.
Following the meeting, Barkat promised to promote the project and help find a proper location for the construction of the stadium.
Minister Shalom offered the businessmen governmental aid, if they were to build stadiums in the country’s northern and southern regions.
Officials were also examining the possibility of building a stadium in Netanya, which brands itself as Israel’s sports hub.
One of the men involved in the project is billionaire Jeffrey Rosen, who owns Israeli basketball team Maccabi Haifa.
The businessmen have also approached Israeli diplomats, and asked them to help coordinate meetings with Israeli officials that can help promote the project.
The entrepreneurs are aware of the fact that baseball is not very popular in Israel, but believe that with time it can gain a following. At first, they plan on catering to American expatriates living in Israel, who continue to follow the popular American sport.
Past attempts to import the sport have proved unsuccessful. In 2007, the first professional Israeli baseball league was established, and one of its managers was former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk.
Six teams participated in the league’s first season, but the second season was cancelled after the league suffered financial loses. Despite the failure of previous initiatives, the American entrepreneurs, who enjoy the support of The NY Yankees, want to have another go at it, and believe this time they will hit a home run.