The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has reassigned hosting rights for its 2018 U23 Baseball World Cup to Barranquilla, as it seeks to take advantage of facilities developed for the Colombian city’s staging of the Central American and Caribbean Games.
The World Cup, which will be the top international baseball competition of 2018, was due to take place in Nicaragua, but given the current political climate in the country, WBSC and the Nicaraguan Baseball Federation agreed the rights would be reassigned.
The World Cup will now take place in Barranquilla from October 19-28, with the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games due to draw to a close in the city on August 3.
The newly-inaugurated $33m (€28.1m), 12,000-seat Edgar Renteria Baseball Stadium will serve as the centrepiece of the World Cup. The state-of-the-art stadium has performed the same role for the Central American and Caribbean Games and has become South America’s premier baseball venue.
Located approximately 100 kilometres south of Barranquilla, World Cup games will also help to inaugurate new baseball stadiums in Repelón and Manatí, which are part of an $8m investment in sport by Colombia’s Atlántico Department. Barranquilla’s Santa Marta Baseball Stadium will serve as a main venue with the official plan to be confirmed following stadium inspections by the WBSC.
WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said: “Barranquilla – the excellent organisers of the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games – have built the premier baseball stadium in South America, and it is the ideal setting to showcase the best under-23 players and teams in the world.
“Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Colombia, and the Colombian leaders have done a great job expanding the baseball and sports infrastructure in their great country – and the U23 Baseball World Cup will spotlight this to the world in October.”
Atlántico Department Governor Edoardo Verano De La Rosa added: “We are investing greatly in baseball facilities up and down the state. Our plan is to capitalise on this phenomenon that we are experiencing with the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla in order to revitalise sport across the state. Events such as the U23 Baseball World Cup will allow us to continue showing the world a great atmosphere in the stands and on the field.”
As host, Colombia has been granted a wild card and is the 12th and final team to enter the race for the U23 world title.