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ABL shakeup confirmed
The ABL have confirmed the inclusion of a New Zealand team and U.S. style conference model
06/05/2018 2:01 AM ET
Perth Heat infielder Robbie Glendinning celebrates scoring a run last season
Perth Heat infielder Robbie Glendinning celebrates scoring a run last season (James Worsfold )

The Australian Baseball League will take on a drastically different look in 2018/19 with the league confirming the inclusion of a New Zealand team as well as a new-look conference system.

The announcement comes following a Baseball Australia Board Meeting held last week to determine the league's structure moving forward.

The ABL becomes the first Australian domestic league to adopt a conference system, predominately used in U.S. sports.

The Perth Heat headline the Southwest Division alongside the Adelaide Bite, Melbourne Aces and the recently added Winterball Korea side, while the New Zealand team will play in the Northeast Division alongside the Canberra Cavalry, Sydney Blue Sox and three-time reigning champion Brisbane Bandits. 

Each team will play eight home and away games against their conference rivals as well as a further single, four-game series against teams from the opposing conference.

ABL CEO Cam Vale says the announcement is revolutionary for Australian sports.

"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," he said.

"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."

Having adopted a six-team format since the formation of the league in 2010, Vale says the time was right to expand.

"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," he 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."

Vale also confirmed the Heat are close to naming a new owner.

"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," he said.

An announcement is expected to be made regarding Perth's ownership situation in the coming weeks, well in time for the start of the 2018/19 season in November.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.