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Thursday, March 16, 2006
Organizers have spent $50 million on Classic

By Enrique Rojas

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Gene Orza, the vice president of the players' association, told that the World Baseball Classic has cost $50 million.

Orza provided background before the game between Cuba and Puerto Rico in the final week of the second round.

"We still don't know if we will make money, but this event was not about money in its first edition. This is about developing baseball and creating roots for the future," Orza said.

The World Classic is organized by Major League Baseball and the union, with the support of the International Baseball Federation and the World Antidoping Agency.

The tournament began March 3 in Tokyo and Japan, and it will end Monday in San Diego.

Puerto Rico hosted parts of two of the three rounds.

For the first time in professional baseball, the best players all over the world have had the chance to represent their countries. Sixteen countries from five continents were divided in four pools in the first round.

As of Tuesday, 512,773 fans had paid tickets to watch the games in Tokyo, Orlando, Arizona and San Juan, and television ratings have been strong. More than 100,000 fans are expected for the semifinals Saturday and the final Monday at Petco Park in San Diego.

Orza said that the organizers have already confirmed the tournament's continuation, which will take place every four years.

"The tournament has a bright future," said Orza.

"Everybody involved in the tournament thinks the World Baseball Classic has been a total success," said Lou Menendez, vice president of MLB operations.

Baseball's vice president of public relations, Pat Courtney, said he had spoken to commissioner Bud Selig about the Classic's success.

"He had good expectations about the Classic coming in, but they have been exceeded as far as television audience, merchandising sold and the fans' support. It really has been extremely positive," said Courtney.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for and