Press Release World Baseball Softball Confederation
TOKYO, Japan – The President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), Riccardo Fraccari, and the Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Katsuhiko Kumazaki, have agreed on a partnership that will bring the inaugural WBSC Premier 12™ to Japan in November, it was announced today at a press conference in Japan’s capital city.
Under the partnership, NPB — the 2nd highest-attended major sports league in the world in 2014, with nearly 23 million fans filling venues for NPB’s 80th anniversary season — will host a special grand opening contest, the semi-finals, and medal round of the WBSC’s new flagship professional baseball world championship featuring the Men’s National Teams from the Top 12-ranked nations (the “Premier 12”) in the world and will award US$ millions in prize money, in addition to distributing the highest amount of world ranking points of any international baseball event.
Following in a series of blockbuster announcements, the iconic Tokyo Dome was named as the crown jewel venue that will host the 2015 WBSC Premier 12 semi-finals, bronze medal contest and the decisive gold medal finale. It was also revealed that a “secret” location will be announced in the coming weeks for the grand opening of the 2015 Premier 12 in Japan, along with special opening ceremonies.
“The iconic Tokyo Dome is a symbol of Japan and of baseball,” said President Fraccari, “and it is one the world’s leading stadiums for staging some the biggest events in sport and entertainment, which not only reinforces but further defines the Premier 12 brand ahead of its launch.”
The world governing body leader said he was honoured to strengthen ties with one of the sporting world’s most successful leagues and have the 2015 Premier 12 co-hosted across two of baseball’s most important territories.
“I thank NPB Commissioner Kumazaki for this landmark partnership, which will help drive the launch, reach and overall viewership of the inaugural WBSC Premier 12 this November into the hundreds of millions,” said President Fraccari, “and, I am particularly proud of how we were able to work together with all the various stakeholders to get this done and have Premier 12 co-hosted by two nations where our sport is the established leader among athletes, fans, sponsors, and can generate record viewer ratings and engaging in-stadium experiences.”
The opening Round-Robin (except for the special grand opening contest in Japan) and quarterfinals of the Premier 12 will be staged in Chinese Taipei.
Said NPB Commissioner Kumazaki: “This partnership sends a strong signal that we are united behind WBSC President Fraccari and share his global vision for international competitions and the Premier 12. This is a great privilege and responsibility for NPB, and we have every confidence in the success of the WBSC Premier 12. NPB is committed to — in strong partnership with WBSC — further raising the profile of WBSC-sanctioned international events, particularly those that feature National Teams and that showcase our sport and our athletes playing for their countries on the global stage like the Premier 12.”
PREMIER 12 LOGO UNVEILED
Amid a wave of major announcements already changing the course and history of the WBSC Premier 12, the first-ever presentation of the Official WBSC Premier 12 logo was unveiled by short video presentation.
The same United Kingdom-based group (The Works Ltd) responsible for the official looks of such elite properties as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League Finals has been appointed to deliver a truly global look and feel, and electrifying atmosphere for the 2015 WBSC Premier 12, including all Fanzones. The unique features of the modern logo include 12 stars that symbolise the world’s 12 best baseball nations that make up the identity and will compete in the Premier 12.
2015 PREMIER 12 DATES ANNOUNCED
WBSC officials stressed the aim of this flagship world baseball championship is to be an exciting sprint that covers only two weeks and only nine total days of competition, as the dates of the inaugural WBSC Premier 12 were revealed: 8-21 November.
While the schedule and groups of the 2015 WBSC Premier 12 will be released at a later date, the grand opening, under the new co-hosting agreement, will showcase the top stars on the World No. 1 Japanese National Baseball Team, “Samurai Japan”, and will likely draw a sold-out stadium and kick-off Premier 12 with a frenzy among fans and media alike.
PREMIER 12 LAUNCH HERALDS “NEW ERA”
President Fraccari said the launch of Premier 12 reflected an exciting new period for world baseball and softball, highlighted by the rapid development and expansion of baseball and softball, and leading to the emergence of a new world order in baseball and softball.
“This is giving rise to a golden era of global growth amongst fans, sponsors, broadcasters and especially among young people and women interested in playing and following baseball and softball worldwide, particularly in new markets in Europe, the Middle East, as well as in South America and Africa, and in Asia,” President Fraccari said.
President Fraccari said that inclusion of baseball and softball at the Olympic Games, which he described as “the greatest sporting stage and spectacle in the world”, was a central goal in this new era.
Finishing only behind wrestling at a 2013 International Olympic Committee vote for inclusion on the Olympic programme and following the endorsement of IOC President Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020 reforms late last year, the WBSC will look to apply for further consideration for possible inclusion at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, he said.
“I believe that Japan’s passion for baseball and softball, if included at the Tokyo 2020 Games, will unite and engage the entire Olympic host nation of Japan behind the Games and the Olympic ideals of sport in society — as well as honour Japan’s sporting heritage,” he said.
“The inclusion of baseball and softball at Tokyo 2020 will also make the Olympic Games, the Olympic magic and values more relevant and accessible to millions of new and loyal baseball and softball fans and players in the growing list of nations where baseball and softball are now part of the sporting landscape in the 21st century and continuing to grow in popularity.”
PREMIER 12 NATIONS AND GLOBAL SPREAD
The twelve qualified nations for the inaugural Premier 12 in 2015 were announced in November 2014 and form an elite and global group (by World Rank): No. 1 Japan, No. 2 USA, No. 3 Cuba, No. 4 Chinese Taipei, No. 5 Netherlands, No. 6 Dominican Republic, No. 7 Canada, No. 8 South Korea, No. 9 Puerto Rico, No. 10 Venezuela, No. 11 Italy and No. 12. Mexico.
The 2015 Premier 12 will have a global footprint that spreads across the entire western hemisphere — North, Central- and South America, and the Caribbean — Asia, and Northern and Southern Europe. Oceania’s No. 14 Australia, which had been ranked as high as No. 10 in 2012, finished just 8.96 rankings points behind No. 12 Mexico.