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Sep '16 22

Roma: “No!”, London: “Please!”, Amsterdam-Hoofddorp: “Ready!”

by Pim van Nes

renata-jansen-ceremonial-pitch-ek-2016Everything is happening in these few days after the successful European Championship tournament in the new stadium of Hoofddorp (just outside Netherlands capital Amsterdam). 12 national teams competed during ten days from 11 a.m. till late in the evenings under almost ideal conditions.

On Tuesday it was published in the Netherlands that the maintenance of Hoofddorp stadium with special Boston Red Sox turf will be financially supported by local city council with effect for coming years 2017 and 2018. The new stadium meets all MLB requirements, contrary to most pro clubs in USA.

On Tuesday Europe learned that during last weekend the new Mayor of London pleaded in New York to get MLB games, ironically enough, in former Olympic stadium in London, where in 2012 the Olympic Games were held without baseball and softball.

On Wednesday the new Mayor of Roma said “No!” to further expensive campaigns for Italian candidacy aiming at Olympic Games 2024, especially due to high construction costs for stadiums in a country plagued by corruption, also in this domain. Mrs Raggi’s political party M5S is an inspired corruption fighter.

As a consequence of this decision by Virginia Raggi, it is not very likely that the intended construction of a baseball stadium according to MLB specifications will be authorized by the same mayor and her city council in Roma. Debts amounting to billions forbid other projects than the first needs of my population, she said.

On September 9 the Hoofddorp tournament was opened by the ceremonial first pitch performed by sports alderman Adam Elzakalai and on September 18 he presented the tournament’s MVP award to Netherlands short stop Stijn van der Meer. The latter ceremony took place after the full house finale game between the Netherlands and Spain: 3-2 in 10 innings bringing the 22nd European championship to the cool North Sea country. Hundreds of fans having found the stadium sold out watched the game standing on the dike behind outfield.

On Wednesday Mr Elzakalai told Mister-Baseball.com that he had frequented the tournament almost every day and that he got inspired by meeting so many Dutch and other Europeans loving baseball deeply for a life time. He took pride in hosting international baseball in his city’s stadium, built some years ago after agreement with MLB staff from London. Mister-Baseball.com then quoted former MLB Europe director Clive Russell: “MLB wants to play in Europe and the Netherlands have conquered pole position, as far as we are concerned!” The article was dated March 22, 2011.

We live five years later and the stadium, staff and city have organised gradually higher ranking events. Elzakalai stated that he owes much appreciation to all volunteers and sponsors enabling the success of the ten days European Championship tournament with a dozen national flags behind outfield in Hoofddorp and nearby Nieuw-Vennep. Years before London Mayor last weekend, the Dutch city council paid visits to MLB in New York and MLB came to town hall in Hoofddorp several times expressing repeatedly their positive feelings for the new stadium and participating in the special work for their own requirements.

Having read about London mayor pleading in New York, alderman Elzakalai informed Mister-Baseball.com that his mayor will not pay visits to MLB in New York any more, as the Americans know perfectly the stadium is ready for all kinds of games, varying from Hoofdklasse and European to MLB games. We can organise regular and extraordinary events and by now it is entirely up to MLB New York to start something up in our baseball country. We are ready for further cooperation towards international games by teams from USA. Or from Japan, according to rumours I heard recently, the alderman said.

“MLB New York remains certainly very welcome in Hoofddorp, however, they simply have to take their own decision at last. As soon as they have made up their mind definitely and confirmed on paper, we will be ready for being host city for their event in Europe. If so, we will communicate with them directly about what and when and how. Briefly: a heartfelt welcome to MLB in our beautiful stadium and complex, providing they have decided and promised definitely. Period.”

Photo by Renata Jansen

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