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Barry Larkin helping to launch new baseball league in Dubai

UIBL plans 4-team launch in 2023
All-Star Game Baseball
Posted at 9:02 AM, Jul 25, 2022

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin is teaming up with a local company to launch a new professional baseball league in Dubai.

The United International Baseball League will try to entice an estimated 900 million cricket fans in India, Pakistan and the Middle East to fall in love with America’s pastime with an “Inaugural Showcase” featuring four franchises in 2023.

Larkin and former New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera have been retained to promote and grow the league by advising on player development and other matters.

“We truly believe that player development has to start at the grassroots level,” Larkin said in a press release. “I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life focused on helping young people learn the fundamentals of our great game, as well as the fundamentals of great leadership. That’s the beauty of baseball – when you teach it the right way with the right conviction, you can help young people succeed on and off the field. I’ve seen it here in the U.S., I’ve seen it during my time in Brazil, and I’ve witnessed it during my trips to East Asia. Now, I’m very excited to help bring that level of instruction and guidance to India, Pakistan, and the UAE.”

UIBL estimates American baseball is a $13 billion business with nearly 100 million fans across the North and South America. But the game has yet to grab a major fan base in Asia and the Middle East, where cricket is the most popular bat and ball sport. The International Cricket Council T20 World Cup last year drew a television audience of 167 million. That’s 150 million more than the World Series.

Its press release said the UIBL will “introduce new rule changes” and provide “a more immersive viewing experience for fans at the stadium and home.”

The league’s president is a former Procter & Gamble Co. executive whose public relations firm, BSB Group, is launching the new league with press events in New York and Cincinnati.

“Not many moments in sports measure up to the energy and excitement of a home run,” said Kash Shaikh, President and Chief Marketing Officer of the UIBL. “The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The elevation of the ball met by the rise in the stands. A home run can unite a stadium with a single swing. And it’s done just that for over a century. We wanted to capture that moment, and share some of that magic with a new generation of fans in South Asia and the Middle East. I can’t wait until our fans in Dubai can experience it for themselves.”