Dodger Stadium selected to host World Baseball Classic semifinals, final

LOS ANGELES -- The semifinals and championship game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic will be played at Dodger Stadium, where such international stars as Fernando Valenzuela of Mexico and Hideo Nomo of Japan made their marks.

"Today is no accident. The Dodgers have been involved internationally in spreading the gospel of baseball for over 50 years," Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully said Thursday. "The fact that baseball has come to Dodger Stadium in so many ways, it's only natural."

The semifinals will be played March 21-22, with the championship game set for March 23.

"Los Angeles is one of the most international cities in the world and the Dodgers have always been at the forefront of the international movement," said Bob DuPuy, president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. "The diverse makeup of the community was also a consideration in making this award."

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt concluded a press conference in the Stadium Club with another announcement, saying the team had acquired outfielder Manny Ramirez from Boston in a three-team trade. McCourt called Ramirez one of the greatest hitters ever born in the Dominican Republic.

DuPuy said more than 20 venues were considered for the semifinals and finals, staged during the inaugural WBC in 2006 at Petco Park in San Diego.

Petco Park and Dolphin Stadium in Miami will host the second round of the tournament -- Petco Park from March 15-19, and Dolphin Stadium from March 14-18.

The opening round of the tournament will be hosted outside of the United States, with Pool A (China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea) competing at the Tokyo Dome; Pool B (Australia, Cuba, Mexico and South Africa) at Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City; Pool C (Canada, Italy, United States and Venezuela) at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, and Pool D (Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico) at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, P.R.

Japan won the inaugural WBC, defeating Cuba 10-6 in the championship game. One significant difference in the second Classic is it will be a double-elimination affair rather than a round-robin competition, which caused confusion in the tiebreaker system during the first tournament.

Dodger Stadium was not used during the 2006 competition. Angel Stadium in nearby Anaheim hosted Round 2 games along with San Juan. First-round sites were Tokyo, Phoenix, Ariz., San Juan and Orlando, Fla.

"I can't tell you how excited we are, and honored," McCourt said. "It seems only fitting that we open the gates of Dodger Stadium to fans from all over the world."

McCourt said the three-day competition at Dodger Stadium will mean more than $50 million of economic activity.

"It's a great time to be reminded of the Olympics held in 1984 at Dodger Stadium," he said.

It was also announced that the 16-team field will be expanded in the third WBC in 2013.