The World Baseball Classic, a 16-team tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), will feature many of the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories for the first time ever. The 16 teams invited to participate in the event have been divided into four pools of four teams for the first round of play. Disney's Wide World of Sports will host one of four Round 1 pools (six games). The following teams are scheduled to participate at Disney's Wide World of Sports: the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia and Italy.
"The Orlando area is one of the nation's top international tourist destinations, and we are very pleased that the World Baseball Classic will be a part of that landscape," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "Baseball historically has been a major attraction in Florida each spring, and we are confident that Disney's Wide World of Sports will serve as an excellent host for the World Baseball Classic."
"Our agreement with Disney to host the opening East Coast round of the World Baseball Classic is another important step towards making these inaugural games the success we envision," said MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr. "It's a great venue, which has played host to a number of world class events, and I know the fans, as well as the teams playing in the Disney round, will have a great experience."
One of the world's premier sports destinations, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex hosts more than 170 events each year, including Atlanta Braves Spring Training since 1998. Cracker Jack Stadium, a two-tiered retro baseball ballpark, is the centerpiece of Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. In addition to spring training, the venue hosts Atlanta Braves' Gulf Coast and Fall Instructional Leagues, numerous amateur tournaments, concerts, corporate hospitality functions and event opening ceremonies. The stadium has 7,500 permanent upper and lower deck seats (80 percent are located between first and third base), plus a grass berm in left field that offers seating for an additional 2,000+ guests. Since opening on March 28, 1997, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex has hosted more than one million athletes, both professional and amateur.
"We are honored to host round one of the World Baseball Classic at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex," said Reggie Williams, vice president of Disney Sports Attractions. "The sports complex is home to many world-class athletic events each year, so we are excited to be a part of these historical games."