During a press conference in Los Angeles, it was announced that the Marlins’ home – Dolphin Stadium will be one of the hosts for the two pools of Round 2 in the 2009 World Baseball Classic from March 14-19 of next year. PETCO Park in San Diego, Calif., will serve as the other host.
“Dolphin Stadium and PETCO Park will provide strong international venues for Round Two of the tournament. Baseball fans across the globe will have the exciting opportunity to experience these three exceptional settings during the world’s premier international baseball tournament,” said Bob DuPuy, President and COO, Major League Baseball.
“For us to get the second round, we’re getting some really good teams,” said Claude Delorme, senior vice president of stadium development for the Marlins. “It’s going to be great games in our pool, and with the international diversity of South Florida, a lot of people are going to see their countries play, whether it’s the Dominican or Venezuela, Puerto Rico, U.S.A, Canada.
“People are going to come out and watch these games, and the passion for their country will certainly be on display.”
For the Marlins, it was a much-needed step in the right direction in the hopes of opening a new stadium in 2011, especially in the wake of a Ramirez deal gone awry, a lawsuit pending on the stadium plan and another year of league-low attendance.
“I think by baseball selecting us, it’s sending a nice message to everybody about how strongly they feel about Miami and the support we have for baseball,” said Delorme, a day after the Marlins drew 20,000-plus fans three weekday nights in a row when the Mets were in town. “I think it exemplifies MLB’s dedication to Miami, and I think it’s a great step for us.”
With the prominence of Hispanic culture in South Florida, a tournament with numerous Latin American countries being played in Miami was pretty much a no-brainer.
“I think it’s huge,” Delorme said. “We have to sell baseball at the grassroots level, and our fan base has to grow significantly by the time we get into the new facility. And the more people who are exposed to baseball, I think it helps us sell the game to people and helps people become a fan of baseball.”
“I was confident that we had a really good chance just because the efforts and the quality of our proposal, both financially and with the detail we attended to it,” Delorme said. “This is the gateway to the Americas, and I think it was a natural destination for MLB.”
And The World Baseball Classic will return to Petco Park from March 15 through 19, 2009. Petco, the site of the inaugural event’s semifinals and final in 2006, will house second-round games involving the four advancing teams from pools A and B.
“We are thrilled that the World Baseball Classic is returning to San Diego,” said Padres CEO Sandy Alderson.