World Baseball Softball Confederation’s 2020 Bid Boosted after UK Venue Launch

By Community | July 21, 2013

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) have opened its first dedicated national baseball and softball venue in Britain as it continues it campaign to be included in the 2020 Olympic Games. 

The facility, which features a full size international standard baseball field and three softball/youthbaseball fields, has been designed to encourage young people and women and girls into the sports from Britain’s vibrant multicultural communities.

The demand for the new facility also highlights the increasing popularity of the two sports amongst women and young people from a wide variety of backgrounds, in the United Kingdom and across Europe, which has seen rapid growth in softball and baseball over recent years in these important, non-traditional new territories and markets.

The opening ceremony for the venue on Saturday at Farnham Park, in Slough, near London, was the culmination of planning by BaseballSoftballUK, and funding from Sport England, the UK Government’s sports development body.

The state of the art facility was also jointly financed by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund of Major League Baseball (MLB) which, along with other professional leagues around the world, is providing important support and backing for the WBSC campaign for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.

“The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is thrilled to award BaseballSoftballUK this grant that assisted in the creation of a new facility at Farnham Park Sports Ground,” said Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. “It is exciting to have a new complex in the United Kingdom and our hope is that a facility such as this will continue to introduce kids to the pastime and grow the games of baseball and softball.”

The new facility will also support the creation of a new after-school program in the community and a girls fast-pitch softball league. The complex will be considered the “home” of Britishbaseball and softball and will host local, regional and national tournaments and training for more than 1,000 youth, ages 8-16, year-round.

“This is a momentous achievement that will further attract athletes to our sport in the UK and underpin baseball and softball’s continued rise in Europe and worldwide emergence,” said WBSC co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter.

“We fully support the single baseball/softball venue concept, as WBSC is proposing a streamlined shared venue for the 2020 Olympic Games. The forward-thinking Farnham Park project highlights the significant benefits and realities of baseball and softball’s partnership and long-term sustainability,” the co-Presidents added.

A similar modern concept baseball and softball venue is set to be completed in March 2014 at “Park 21” in the Amsterdam metropolitan region, while in May 2012, the first international standard ballpark in France was inaugurated just south of Paris in Senart.

If included, softball and baseball would be unlike any other sport at the 2020 Olympic Games, bringing new and unique sporting skills and qualities to Olympic fans and viewers as the only bat and ball sport at the Games, helping to balance and diversify the Olympic programme and Olympic Games experience.

“The World Baseball Softball Confederation regards the Olympic Games as the highest honour and greatest goal for every athlete and sport, and we will place our full global resources and passion for the Games at the service of the Olympic Movement,” WBSC co-presidents Fraccari and Porter said.