No decision has been reached on whether South Korea will host World Baseball Classic games next year, despite a recent statement by an American broadcaster, a senior Major League Baseball (MLB) official said Wednesday.
During the Fox Sports telecast of the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday (local time), Dick Bremer, the Twins' play-by-play man, declared, "The WBC, we're heading to Korea. That is our first stop in the WBC (in 2017)." He made the comment while discussing the Twins' South Korean designated hitter/first baseman, Park Byung-ho.
Responding to an email inquiry by Yonhap News Agency, Chris Park, MLB's senior vice president of growth, strategy and international, wrote, "It sounds like the broadcaster got ahead of himself."
"We have not made any announcements on WBC venues," added Park, who is responsible for overseeing MLB's international business initiatives, including the WBC. "We are certainly giving the KBO bid serious consideration but have not made any decisions (at) this point."
Park was referring to the Korea Baseball Organization, which runs the top professional league here and which in January submitted its bid to stage first-round WBC games in 2017. The WBC was launched in 2006 by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA).
A KBO official told Yonhap that he doesn't expect to learn of the bid's fate until May.
In an interview with Yonhap in Seoul last December, Park said he wanted to see both WBC and MLB regular season games staged in South Korea.
"Details about whether we can make it happen and when obviously depend a lot on things that are really outside of our control," Park said at the time. "There are other world class facilities going up in some other countries that are looking to host WBC rounds. So there's pretty stiff competition. I'd certainly be rooting for us to be able to stage a round or some kind of a significant event here soon."
MLB has been trying to grow the game outside the United States. Some WBC qualifiers were played in Australia, Mexico and Panama in February and March. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins will play two regular seasons games in Puerto Rico in May, the first two big league contests in the country.
Should South Korea win the bid, the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul will be the likely venue. The nation's first dome opened last November and currently serves as the home of the Nexen Heroes in the KBO.
In an earlier interview with the Chinese-language newspaper Liberty Times, Richard Lin, secretary-general of the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, said South Korea was favored over Taiwan in their bid for WBC games because of the dome.
The WBC games so far have been held in March, when the weather remains cool in parts of South Korea. (Yonhap)