West Ham hopes for mass Europa Conference League final screening scuppered by Major League Baseball

West Ham hopes for mass Europa Conference League final screening scuppered by Major League Baseball

West Ham’s hopes of holding a mass screening of their Europa Conference League final at the London Stadium have been scuppered by Major League Baseball.

The Hammers are preparing for their first major European final in 47 years, but while David Moyes’s side travel to Prague to meet Fiorentina on June 7, their home ground will be being transformed ahead of a double-header between the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals.

West Ham have been exploring alternative options but it is understood that a large-scale event in London is now unlikely, though the club are planning to create a fan park for ticketless supporters to watch the match in Prague, with staff on the ground this week for reconnaissance.

West Ham have been given an allocation of just 4,890 tickets for the game at the 19,370-seater Eden Arena, and while several times that number are expected to travel to the Czech capital, tens of thousands more will watch the game in London.

It is typical for English clubs to host screenings of such fixtures at their home grounds, with Manchester City expected to welcome fans to the Etihad Stadium for their Champions League final against Inter Milan next month, having done so for the defeat to Chelsea two years ago.

Major League Baseball is returning to the London Stadium for two games in June (Getty Images)
Major League Baseball is returning to the London Stadium for two games in June (Getty Images)

West Ham’s situation is complicated, however, by the fact that they do not own the ground, instead paying an annual rental fee to the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Following Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Leeds, the Irons’ final home game of the season, the stadium has already been handed over ahead of a concert by Grammy award-winning artist Burna Boy at the start of June, before MLB returns to London for the first time in four years.

Two of baseball’s biggest names, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, met in the inaugural London game in 2019, but the following year’s planned visit was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it was not until last May that a new partnership running through to 2026 was announced.

This year’s series will see the Cardinals and Cubs meet on back-to-back nights on June 24 and 25 but the scale of the transformation needed to turn the stadium into a ballpark means work will have to begin before the Conference League final.

The process, which in 2019 included laying 141,900 square feet of artificial turf and constructing temporary ‘clubhouses’ to accommodate baseball teams’ larger rosters, is expected to take around three weeks.