Design showcase: Home Run House

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the latest sport to be offered as a consumer experience at a UK shopping centre.

Home Run House, which has opened at Westfield Stratford City, has been developed by Major League Baseball (MLB) in partnership with US hospitality group Passyunk Avenue. Design is by Imagination, which worked with Fusion Design and Architecture and a Passyunk Avenue curation team to deliver the attraction.

MLB has been seeking ways to engage with a growing European fan base. London Yards - a three day festival held in the Truman Brewery in London in June 2019, to celebrate the first regular season MLB played in Europe – proved popular. As a result MLB agreed a partnership with Passyunk Avenue to develop an 'activity-led retail experience' of baseball.

Home Run House will operate for 12 months. It will offer visitors the chance to watch, play and experience baseball, and understand how it has become an integral part of US culture. Key to that is a recreation of a day at the ballpark. Custom batting cages – with Hittrax rader technology – will allow visitors to play a number of baseball-themed cages in virtual representations of 30 Major League ballparks.

A bar and entertainment area has been developed in conjunction with beer brand Budweiser. Bar customers can cheer on friends in the batting cages, watch love Major League games on large screens, and enjoy beer and hot dogs. An officially-licensed MLB merchandise shop, operated by New Era, is incorporated in the centre. It features hats and apparel from all 30 Major League teams.

“Given the interest in baseball, especially as demonstrated by the huge turnout for the London Series and related events last year, we thought it was important to develop a more sustained market presence”, said MLB vice president of international strategy Charlie Hill. “We wanted to create a venue where our fans could both learn more about the game and have a fun day out in a way that replicates the experience of visiting the ballpark.”

Passyunk Avenue founder JP Teti added: “We’re excited to be collaborating with MLB and Budweiser to make this concept a reality because our brand is all about telling authentic American stories that provide a glimpse into unique aspects of American culture and we believe there is a great American story to tell here.”

Major League Baseball is the oldest of the major professional sports Leagues in North America. Of the 30 teams that compete, 15 play in the National League, and 15 in the American League. One team is based in Canade, and the remaining 29 in the US. The MLB oversees Minor League Baseball, in which a further 256 teams compete.


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