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  • Ticket sales are brisk for Classic

    Ticket sales are brisk for Classic
    By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

    PHOENIX -- With eight days to go before the start of the World Baseball Classic at Tokyo Dome, ticket sales are going gangbusters.
    Total sales for the tournament that runs from March 3-20 in Japan, the U.S. and Puerto Rico could run as high as 800,000, said Major League Baseball's top official in charge of the tournament on Wednesday.

    "That's as many tickets that have been sold for the Winter Olympics," said Gene Orza, the chief operation officer of the players association during a nearly 55-minute conference call.

    "I'm not sure you get a ticket in San Diego at this point, and if you do you'll have an obstructed view," said Paul Archey, MLB's vice president of international business operations. "We sold every ticket there in very quick fashion."

    The semifinals and finals in 42,000-seat PETCO Park are sold out. First-round games in smaller venues at Disney Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium are going to be tough to get. So will the three games involving Japan in Tokyo's 55,000-seat stadium where the six-games should total about 200,000. Eighty percent of the tickets for the three games at 11,000-seat Scottsdale Stadium have already been sold.

    As for Chase Field, where the U.S. will open against Mexico on March 7 and play Canada on March 8, more than 60,000 tickets have already been sold for the three games there.

    For the second round, Puerto Ricans should snap up the tickets for all six games in the 22,000-seat facility. Which makes sense. The field there for the second round could include host Puerto Rico as well as Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, all powerhouse Latin America teams.

    "The enthusiasm among fans in Puerto Rico to see this collection of players is perhaps the highest level of interest in baseball there in a long time," Archey said. "One of the reasons for having this tournament is to have that kind of impact globally. To build, grow or rejuvenate interest in baseball."

    Don't try and get tickets for first round games in Florida between the Dominican and Venezuela or Cuba and Puerto Rico in San Juan.

    "You can't get any," Archey said. "Both games sold out in a matter of hours."

    In Anaheim, about 100,000 tickets have already been sold for the six second-round games and fans there don't even know who's participating yet. If the foursome includes the U.S., Japan and Mexico you can count on last-minute sales being brisk at 40,000-seat Angel Stadium.

    "Will we sell out every game? No," Archey said. "Are we going to be happy with 800,000 in ticket sales? Absolutely."

    Considering the fact that this is the inaugural Classic, the first international baseball tournament in history to include Major League players, the interest and ticket sales are extraordinary.

    In comparison, the first Super Bowl game, a 35-10 victory by the NFL champion Green Bay Packers over the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs, drew 61,946 on Jan. 15, 1967, in the 100,000-seat Los Angeles Coliseum. The last World Basketball Championship, played in 2002 and hosted for the first time by the U.S. (in Indianapolis), averaged a disappointing 6,033 a game. And that's with NBA players participating. That event, which has been staged every four years since 1950 in between the Summer Olympics, is scheduled again this summer in Japan.

    The buzz internationally about the first World Baseball Classic is so acute that 3,500 credential requests for the different venues have been filed from media outlets around the world, Archey and Orza said. Compare that to the 1,200 to 1,500 requests that are usually received for the World Series. Again, credential requests for the Classic are akin to those for the Winter Olympics, which has been running for nearly three weeks in Turin, Italy.

    "This tournament is going to be a whole lot of fun," said Orza, who along with Archey heads World Baseball Classic Inc., the entity that is running the tournament. "It's going to be fun watching Johan Santana in that uniform pitching against David Ortiz in his uniform. It's just going to be that kind of exciting event."



    Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com.

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