The Thunder Bay International Baseball Association is one step closer to landing the 18U Baseball World Cup.
Officials on Thursday confirmed the city was the lone Canadian city to put forward a bid for the tournament, which in years past has produced the likes of stars like Minnesota Twins all-star catcher Joe Mauer and Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig.
Baseball Canada has endorsed the bid, though Warren Philp said he expects there will be overseas competition to host the event, last held in Thunder Bay in 2010.
“We think we’re in a pretty good position if they want to come to North America. We’ve met all their criteria in their bid package, so we should be a strong contender,” said Philp, TBIBA’s executive director.
He said he expects competition from Japan and South Korea, and possibly Chinese-Taipei, who won the title in 2010 and hosted the most recent edition of the International Baseball Federation-run event.
The Americans could factor in, but given their relationship with perennial contender Cuba, Philp said it was unlikely they’d submit a bid.
Thunder Bay’s bid this time around was much costlier than in 2010.
Larry Hebert, president of the TBIBA, said they needed $120,000 up front to secure the bid, money they had on hand from the profits of the 2010 event, which required a $5,000 security. The money will be refunded should the bid not be successful.
Hebert said landing the tournament would be another feather in the city’s baseball cap.
The city has done a remarkable job hosting major baseball tournaments in the past, including Baseball Canada’s Canada Cup in 2004, not to mention the then-named World Junior Baseball Championship in 2010, an event that drew more than 50,000 fans to Port Arthur Stadium and Baseball Central.
It’s good for the city, he added.
“It’s a big economic driver. It was over $6 million worth of economic activity in the city last time and we expect it will be even more this time.”
Unlike 2010, when teams stayed in dormitories at Lakehead University, tournament requirements state players must stay in hotels.
Hebert said the event would also likely require upgrades to the outfield at Baseball Central.
“They’re going to come in and assess it ... We may also reassess the backstop at Port Arthur Stadium with the rubberized (material) like it is in Duluth, so we’ll work with the Border Cats on that one,” Hebert said.
TBIBA has also begun pursuing TV contracts with national networks, which Philp said was one of the main reasons their group lost out to Chinese Taipei for the most recent 18U Baseball World Cup.
The 2010 tournament’s semifinal and final were carried by Rogers Television. Philp said he hopes Pan-Am Games coverage makes it more palatable for networks to consider a possible Thunder Bay event.
The 2015 18U Baseball World Cup is slated to begin on Aug. 26, 2015, several weeks later than in 2010 in order to accommodate Japan.
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