Once the host of 1984 Olympic Baseball Games, Dodger Stadium will be host of semifinal and final of 2009 World Baseball Classic.
With an official announcement, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt confirmed that his home ballpark will host the semifinals on March 21-22, with the championship game set for March 23.
“We are excited and honored to be hosting the championships of the 2009 World Baseball Classic,” McCourt said. “We have embraced the international game for a long time and it is only fitting that we open the gates to Dodger Stadium to the fans from all around the world.” “We think the final games of the 2009 World Baseball Classic will be the biggest international event in the history of baseball.”
Of course, it will help McCourt to earn more money, due to the three-day competition at Dodger Stadium will mean more than $50 million of economic activity.
“Today is no accident. The Dodgers have been involved internationally in spreading the gospel of baseball for over 50 years,” “The fact that baseball has come to Dodger Stadium in so many ways, it’s only natural.”
MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said:
“Given what the Dodgers organization has meant internationally and given the city, the diversity and the culture, the languages spoken and the weather, it is a natural fit,”
“Los Angeles is one of the most international cities in the world and the Dodgers have always been at the forefront of the international movement,” “The diverse makeup of the community was also a consideration in making this award.”
Gene Orza, chief operating officer of Major League Baseball Players Association, said:
“It is inevitable that we would be in Los Angeles for the semifinals and finals. There is no city that has the mix of the things that we need. Weather, fan base and diversity,” “This organization is truly a leader in the whole idea of how global the reach of baseball is. The Dodgers have been at the forefront of the internationalization of the sport.”
“The real test of the games was not how many fans that showed up. It was the degree that players that played in it wanted to play in it again, but also the players that didn’t play in it wanted in,” “Since 2006, I’ve had players want to play in it again or asking to keep them in mind.”
Japan, which defeated Cuba, 10-6, in the 2006 World Baseball Classic final, will defend its crown. The Classic likely will expand its field for the 2013 event, with 24 teams a probable goal.
“After the 2006 tournament, it was only days later that I was receiving letters from other federations around the world that wanted to be in,” said Paul Archey, MLB senior vice president of baseball operations.
DuPuy said twice as many cities submitted bids to be one of the host venues for next year’s Classic, more than 20 venues were considered for the semifinals and finals, and added there may be a consideration of an Asian city hosting the final rounds at a future date.
Attendance figures for the 2006 Classic was more than 740,000 fans from 48 of the 50 states and 15 countries. There were also 486 players that participated with 235 of those from Major League organizations.