Countdown on to baseball world cup in Thunder Bay
Baseball World Cup brings sport's best to Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay will be hosting some of the best young baseball players in the world next month as they compete for the title of world champion.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation's (WBSC) Under-18 Baseball World Cup kicks off in the city on Friday morning. The 10-day tournament will see 12 international teams compete at Port Arthur Stadium and Baseball Central.
"People should remember the 2010 world junior baseball championships; well, this is the same event," said Warren Philp, executive director of the Thunder Bay International Association, which is hosting the tournament. "It's just been rebranded as the WBSC U18 Baseball World Cup."
"The field of teams we had in 2010 was a good field, but this is a much, much stronger field," he said. "We've got nine of the top 10 ranked countries in the world."
Competing this year are national under-18 teams from:
- the United States
- South Korea
- Chinese Taipei
- South Africa
"We've got the globe covered this time," Philp said. "Many of the best teams in the world."
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In total, 50 games will be played during the 10-day tournament, with the final scheduled for Sept. 10 at 5 pm at Port Arthur Stadium.
Philp said organizers are encouraging people who aren't involved with the tournament, or attending a game, to consider alternate routes due to high traffic at both Baseball Central, off Central Avenue, and Port Arthur Stadium.
Fields have seen improvements
"We will have team buses, and courtesy vehicles ... running around town," he said. "If people can be dropped off at ball parks, or ride their bikes to the ball parks, to take pressure off expected crowds at Port Arthur Stadium and Baseball Central, that would be a good thing, as well."
Improvements have been made to the fields at both Port Arthur Stadium and Baseball Central, and bleachers have been added to increase capacity. About 4,000 people will be able to attend games at Port Arthur Stadium during the tournament, and about 1,500 at Baseball Central.
"Both venues will be totally skrimmed around the outfield walls and sideline fences, so the diamond will pretty well be encased with banners, advertising banners, and logos," Philp said. "It's going to make the stadium look amazing."
A legacy for Thunder Bay baseball
And while the bleachers are temporary, the other upgrades are permanent. That, Philp said, will create a legacy for the sport in Thunder Bay.
"That's a whole part of our project as well, is baseball legacy and trying to grow the game," he said.
Today, in fact, is one of the tournament's big events — Toronto Blue Jays youth baseball day, which starts at 11 am at George Burke Park.
During the event, Blue Jays instructors will run a baseball clinics for Challenger Baseball participants and Thunder Bay little league players, in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of Thunder Bay.
"And then, Team Canada will join them," Philp said. "Team Canada will be at George Burke Park, mixing and mingling with the kids that are participating in the clinic to sort of conclude the day."
"We hope this sparks some increased interest in the game," he said.
CBC Thunder Bay will also have a presence at the Baseball World Cup, with Superior Morning running a pop-up show from Port Arthur Stadium on September 7.
Tickets for the tournament can be ordered online at thunderbay2017.com, but passes for games at Port Arthur Stadium must be picked up at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium box office. Tickets can also be ordered at the box office.
No tickets are being sold at the stadium but passes for games at Baseball Central can be purchased on-site.