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Updated: January 24, 2013
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Possible Major League-games in the Netherlands in 2014/15
HOOFDDORP (Neth.) - Two teams from the Major League will play three regular season games in Hoofddorp in June 2014 or 2015 when the new stadium of Vaessen Pioniers is ready. At least, that's the intention. The goal is to organize the 3-games series, which is dubbed the Amsterdam Series 2014, next year. When that's not reachable, 2015 is the next option. Italy initially also opted for the games, but the Netherlands was chosen for its central location. Also, the new stadium is close to the airport. The announcement was made during a press conference on Thursday, January 24 at the City Hall of Haarlemmermeer in Hoofddorp.

Of course, the Amsterdam Series first have to be approved by the international committee and several others (including the Players Association) of Major League Baseball and then will discussed during several meetings to put together the final details. ,,This is the first step'', said Jason Holowaty, Manager for Game Development of Major League Baseball International. ,,Plans now have to be discussed further to fill in the details.'' International games are a big part of the business plan of Major League Baseball for the international development of the sport, the publicity and the awareness of the game'', Holowaty added. ,,This creates the opportunity to have a facility with Major League-standards in Europe. It shows how far the game has come and will progress the game further in Europe. It presents the opportunity to stage major events in Europe, as facilities have always the question.''

It is too early to name the teams that will travel to the Netherlands, as that will be discussed later. But, when the series is approved, it almost surely will be teams from the American east coast, due to the travel time to Amsterdam. This includes the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays. But it also might include the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 2011, the municipalities of Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer (Hoofddorp is part of this latter city) together with the Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Association (KNBSB) officially filed a joined bid to organize the games and are working together for two years to bring the games to the Netherlands.

Michel Bezuijen, Alderman of Haarlemmermeer, stated that the construction of the new stadium will get underway as soon as the necessary licences have been handed out. Bezuijen: ,,The project costs 11,9 million Euro. There will be no other accomodation in Europe which will have these Major League-conditions. The next phase is to start talks to organize the games in either 2014 or 2015.'' Already, ground work has been done on the site where the stadium will be located, an area which is known as Park21. As soon as the new accomodation of Pioniers will be built according to the conditions of Major League Baseball, the series of games can be scheduled for 2014 or 2015. When construction begins, MLB will start talks will all relevant parties. With this commitment, the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer agreed to go ahead with the building project. An eventual additional series after the initial one is one of the possibilities. Also, with the stadium in place, MLB can and will organize several other upcoming projects in the future, like games of the World Baseball Classic or initiatives for player development. The Amsterdam Series will also offer the Amsterdam metropole-area several economic possibilities to present itself worldwide.

The new accomodation will get another function, as the KNBSB will get into talks with Hoofddorp Pioniers to make the complex its home site for the Dutch National Teams. On the new complex, six fields will be situated, one of them being the major stadium with a stands, clubhouse and press/scoring-box. The stands of the main field can be expanded to accomodate 30.000 spectators for the 3-game Major League series. Also on the complex will be a second baseball-field, two softball-fields, one multi-functional field and one Beeball-field. The goal is to have the new complex ready on March 1, 2014 with Hoofddorp Pioniers then moving from its current location at Sportpark Toolenburg. The stadium as well, as the adjacent House of Sports, will be constructed by Vaessen Algemeen Bouwbedrijf, which also is the main sponsor of Hoofddorp Pioniers. Tom Haagmans, the director of Vaessen, said that he expects that the construction will start in March and that the complex will be ready in February of next year. ,,We're proud to be able to deliver a contribution to this project'', said Haagmans.

,,This is a dream come true'', Robert Eenhoorn said. Eenhoorn is the Technical Director of the KNBSB, but played in the Major League himself for the New York Yankees and California/Anaheim Angels in 1994-1997. Eenhoorn: ,This, of course, is fantastic. It is gigantic for the sport of baseball, from the youth to the top. Not only for baseball in the Netherlands but in all of Europe. It also will be important for sports in general in the Netherlands, as the power and size of Major League Baseball are huge, it is a well-respected organization. This creates several opportunities for the whole of sports in the Netherlands.'' Eenhoorn added that a lot of talks have been held in the past two years. ,,You have to be patiently in this. Someone might never have expected this to come true, but some 20 years ago, no one would have predict that the Netherlands would become world champion either. You have to have dreams and set goals. We have a lot of capable persons to keep baseball in a high level. We will always step up front for European baseball and always will create new initiatives to develop the sport.''

(January 24)

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