World Baseball Classic, Inc. today announced the international venues, pools, format and dates for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, which will begin play on Saturday, March 2.
Japan, which has hosted a first-round pool at the Tokyo Dome in each of the previous two World Baseball Classics, will be home to first- and second-round pools in 2013. Opening-round contests in Pool A will be held in Fukuoka at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome from March 2-6, featuring host Japan, China, Cuba (pending license approval) and a qualifier winner to be determined.
Taichung, Taiwan, will make its debut as a host city for World Baseball Classic games, holding contests in Pool B at Intercontinental Stadium from March 2-5. The venue will feature Australia, Korea, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and a qualifier winner to be determined.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, will host World Baseball Classic games for the third consecutive time at Hiram Bithorn Stadium after hosting a first- and second-round pool in 2006, and a first-round pool in 2009. Games in Pool C, being played from March 7-10, include host Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and a qualifier winner to be determined.
Chase Field and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Arizona, which were previously announced as first-round venues, will host the teams in Pool D from March 7-10. Teams competing in the pool include host United States, Italy, Mexico and a qualifier winner to be determined.
Second-round games will return to the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo from March 8-12, and will feature the winners and runners-up from Pool A and Pool B, and Marlins Park in Miami will host the winners and runners-up from Pool C and Pool D from March 12-16.
San Francisco's A&T Park will host the semifinals and final of the 2013 World Baseball Classic from March 17-19 in its debut as a host city for the event, succeeding San Diego's PETCO Park (2006) and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (2009) as the host of the semifinals and final. AT&T Park, which is currently in its 13th season as the home of the Giants, has hosted Major League Baseball's 2007 All-Star Game and the World Series in 2002 and 2010.
The first round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic will once again feature a round-robin format with each team playing each of the other teams in their pool once, totaling six games played at each venue. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the second round, which features a modified double-elimination format, also totaling six games at each venue. The winners and runners-up from each second round venue will advance to the single-elimination championship round at AT&T Park, which will consist of semifinal contests on Sunday, March 17 and Monday, March 18, and the final on Tuesday, March 19.
The World Baseball Classic, which is officially sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), will for the first time in 2013 be recognized as the official national team world championship, with the winner being crowned the 2013 World Baseball Classic champion and the IBAF world champion.
"We look forward to bringing the 2013 World Baseball Classic to the Fukuoka and Taichung communities while also returning to San Juan and Tokyo, two cities that have been tremendous hosts of this unique tournament," said Paul Archey, president of World Baseball Classic, Inc. "Since its inception, the World Baseball Classic has maintained the goal of growing and enhancing the global interest of the game by showcasing the best players in the world competing for their countries. We are thrilled that the IBAF will now recognize the World Baseball Classic as its official world championship."
"The national pride that emerges during the World Baseball Classic -- not only from the players, but the fans -- is awe-inspiring, and we're excited about the venues and locations selected to host Classic games," said Tim Slavin, WBCI Board Member. "The local flavor in each host venue coupled with the fan support for the nations competing in those locations surely will provide fans and players one of the most memorable baseball experiences of their lives."
Provisional rosters for all 16 participating teams will be announced by World Baseball Classic, Inc. on Dec. 3 at the 2012 Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. In conjunction with the announcement of rosters, ticket strips will also go on sale on Dec. 3. Ticket strips will include tickets to each of the six games at each venue (first and second round) or each of the three games for the semifinals and final in San Francisco. Fans who register online at www.worldbaseballclassic.com will be provided an exclusive sales window to buy tickets ahead of the public sale.
The four qualifying teams will be assigned to pools following the conclusion of the remaining qualifiers in November. Spain will make its debut in the World Baseball Classic after winning its qualifier pool at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., which also included Israel, France and South Africa. Canada has also earned a berth in the Classic after winning its qualifier pool at Armin-Wolf Arena in Regensburg, Germany, which also included the Czech Republic, Germany and Great Britain. The two remaining qualifiers will be played at Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City, Taiwan, from Nov. 15-18 and at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama, from Nov. 15-19. The four teams competing in Taiwan include host Chinese Taipei, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand, and the teams competing to advance from Panama include host Panama, Brazil, Colombia and Nicaragua.