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Updated: March 21, 2011
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Copyright © 1997-2011
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2011 by Marco Stoovelaar

Good chance Major League Baseball in Netherlands
HOOFDDORP (Neth.) - There is a good chance that three regular season Major League games will be played on Dutch soil in 2014. During a joined press conference by the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer, the KNBSB and Major League Baseball International on Monday at the City Hall of Haarlemmermeer in Hoofddorp, it was announced that a bidbook for staging this huge event will be officially presented on July 12 in Phoenix (USA) during the All Star Game.

The proposed site for the 3-game series will be the new complex of Hoofddorp Pioniers, which now plays it's home games at Sportpark 'Toolenburg'. In 2014, the Pioniers-complex will be the first project to be ready of Plan21, the new residential and park-area located between Hoofddorp and Nieuw-Vennep and part of the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer.

...Haarlemmermeer Alderman Michel Bezuijen gives details...
...Behind him is the proposed stadium at Park21...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
At the new site, a stadium will be built which looks similar to the one of L&D Amsterdam Pirates at Sportpark 'Ookmeer' in Amsterdam. ,,There is nothing yet at the new location, so we have all possibilities to plan things and ready it for expansion for the Major League-games'', said Michel Bezuijen, the Alderman for Sports for the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer. Because the new site has yet to be built, it makes it the best possible site for the Major League-games.

,,I'm very happy and proud to bring regular season games of the Major League in 2014 to the metropole-area Amsterdam'', stated Robert Eenhoorn, who himself played in the Major League for the New York Yankees and California/Anaheim Angels in 1994-1997. After coming back to the Netherlands, Eenhoorn was the Manager of the Dutch National Baseball Team for eight years (2001-2008) and then became the Technical Director of the Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Association (KNBSB) in January 2009. Under Eenhoorn's guidance, the Dutch Team captured four European titles (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007), finished in fourth place in the World Championship (2005, 2007) and reached the final of the Intercontinental Cup (2006). With this, Eenhoorn set the base for following accomplishments, including defeating the all-pro Dominican Republic twice during the World Baseball Classic of 2009, reaching the Intercontinental Cup-final again in 2010 and currently being ranked in sixth place on the IBAF-worldwide ranking list.

...Robert Eenhoorn...
...''Outstanding possibility''...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Eenhoorn: ,,Baseball is having an enormous development, worldwide, but also in our country. Look at the results at the World Baseball Classic, reaching the final of the Intercontinental Cup, a good relationship with Major League Baseball and the succesfull baseball academies. Major League Baseball is interested in international baseball. They want to play games outside of North America. They've done so in the past in Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Work has been done on this project for quite while now, by the Municipalities of Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer and the KNBSB. And it has the approvement of the Ministery of Sports, as well as the Netherlands Olympic Committee. The best conditions for the event is the Amsterdam-area. I really think that this bid has an outstanding possibility of succeeding. It will have an enorm impact on baseball, not only in the Netherlands, but in all of Europe.''

Eric van der Burg, the Alderman for sports in Amsterdam, added: ,,Amsterdam wants to be the sports capital of the Netherlands. We have an Olympic ambition and therefore, we hope to bring the Olympic Games to Amsterdam in 2028. A decision for that will be taken in 2021. Baseball is a very important sport. We want to cooperate very much in bringing Major League baseball to this metropole-area and therefore want to present a bid for these games together with the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer in Phoenix. This fits in fine in the Amsterdam drive to built a strong track record of events. This is a big event. These games will give a positive impulse and will have a great radiance for the Amsterdam-region and internationally.''

Michel Bezuijen, the Sports Alderman of Haarlemmermeer, said: ,,Like Robert, we're proud to be involved in this project. In our new sportspolicy in Haarlemmermeer, baseball is one of the core sports. We want to strenghthen the topsportclimate here. When the possibilty arose of staging Major League-games, we became very enthousiastic for this idea. The games will be played at the new complex of Hoofddorp Pioniers, which will be located on a complete new area and be completed in 2014. Also, a 'House of the Sports' will be built there with all kinds of facilities. It will be a very nice and huge sports complex. Also logistically, this is a good area with a nearby international airport and hotels. We will make a beautiful presentation in Phoenix.''

In the meantime, documents have been received from Major League Baseball, which expressed its interest of playing games in Europe. Included in the documents are the wishes of MLB and other items of interest for both parties, including traveling, accomodation, hotel and press facilities for some 250-300 members of the media. The Netherlands is a front-runner for organizing the games in 2014.

Ronald Buijs of AYBBP Sports in Business talked about the financial aspects of the project. ,,The base for the exploitation is the capacity for 30.000 spectators in the new stadium. The event has to earn itself through the ticket-revenues, national sponsoring and secudary expenses by spectators. Revenues from television rights and international sponsoring are for Major League Baseball.''

...Clive Russell: ,,MLB wants to play games in Europe''...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Clive Russell, Director for MLB in Europe, Middle East and Africa, underscored that Major League Baseball has reacted enthousiastically on the candidacy of the Amsterdam-region. ,,Major League Baseball expressed its interest in playing games in Europe'', said Russell. ,,Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, has given me the mandate to look at location. Because of the success during the World Baseball Classic, its academies, players turning professional and the partnership of MLB in events like the Haarlem Baseball Week and World Port Tournament, I think that the Netherlands is in pole position. But of course, there are others who wish to have this, so everyone has to work hard to remain in pole position.''

Regarding the capacity of 30.000 spectators per game, Russell said: ,,That is the least of our concerns. Tickets will be sold out within hours. No doubt about that. People will come from all over Europe.''

Eenhoorn: ,,Major League Baseball is the very best baseball in the world and highest professional level there is. Children can look with their own eyes what the possibilities are. What they can reach in their future.'' Russell added: ,,We want to make a long-term commitment and investment. This is not short term.''

Regarding dates for the 3-game series, there are two possibilities. One is in the beginning of April, so at the start of the season. Another possibility is in July during the All Star-break, which would be favorable for weather conditions. Players, who are selected to play in the All Star Game also will travel to Europe with their team. This also is the case when they would be at home, as the selected players simply travel to the All Star-city in the morning and leave after the game.

...Members of the press and guests listen to the presentation...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Of course, no one can say which teams will travel to Europe when the green light is given. Russell: ,,After the bid is presented, the decision might be taken three to six months after that.'' The bid first will be and has to be discussed at the Owner's Meetings in August and probably again in November after completion of the season.

In recent years, regular season games of the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) were played in Europe. Russell: ,,But Major League Baseball was one of the first sports organizations to play regular season games outside of North America''.

When Major League-teams come to Europe, it will be the first time, but it will not be the first time that they will play outside of North America. And it will also not be the first time that regular season games will be played outside of the USA and Canada. In 1996, the New York Mets and San Diego Padres played the first-ever MLB regular season game outside these two countries in Monterrey (Mexico). In 2000, the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs opened the season in Tokyo (Japan), the first games outside North America. In 2001, the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers had their Opening Day in Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan (Puerto Rico), which also was the site for some games during the 2003 and 2004 season as a part-time home for the Montreal Expos. Last year, the Florida Marlins and New York Mets played a 3-game series in San Juan. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres played two exhibition games in March 2008 at Wukesong Stadium in Beijing (China), which was the site for the Olympic baseball-tournament later that year.

(March 21)

...Major League Baseball in the Netherlands in 2014...
...Left to right: Eric van der Burg (Amsterdam Alderman for Sports),...
...Clive Russell (MLB-Director Europe), Robert Eenhoorn (Technical Director KNBSB),...
...Michel Bezuijen (Haarlemmermeer Alderman for Sports) and Ronald Buijs (Sports in Business)...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)

...the masterplan for Park21...

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Copyright © 1997-2011 Marco Stoovelaar / Grand Slam * Stats & News.