Houston bids for the 2026 World Baseball Classic

Ooh, cool.

Houston is bidding to be a host city for the World Baseball Classic when the international tournament is next played in 2026.

The city hosted WBC representatives for a visit in September and submitted its bid prior to last month’s deadline, said John Coppins, senior director of operations for the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. Houston has not previously hosted the WBC, which was introduced in 2006 and held for the fifth time in 2023.

Teams from 20 nations competed in the 2023 tournament, the first WBC played since 2017 due to the pandemic. Miami, Phoenix, Tokyo and Taichung, Taiwan, served as host cities for 2023. Whether the next WBC will adopt a similar pattern — two international and two U.S. host cities — has not been announced.

All four cities hosted group stage games in 2023. Miami and Tokyo hosted the quarterfinals and Miami hosted the semifinals and final at LoanDepot Park, home of the Marlins. The tournament is played in March, during Major League Baseball’s spring training.

Houston submitted a bid to host all rounds of the 2026 WBC, for which host cities could be announced before the start of the 2024 MLB season, Coppins said. Minute Maid Park would serve as the venue, as the Astros are also involved in the bid, as expected for any MLB city applying to host the tournament.

The bid is an attempt to land another high-profile international sporting event. Houston is already one of 16 host sites for the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup, with games to be played at NRG Stadium.

“The World Cup is obviously the premier event in international soccer; I think it’s safe to say the World Baseball Classic is the premier event in international baseball,” Coppins said.

I’m already excited about the World Cup games we’ll get to have that year. Adding in some WBC games, which would happen a few months earlier, would be even more awesome. I don’t know what our odds are – the story doesn’t indicate who the competition is – but Houston has done pretty well with this sort of thing in the recent past, so I’m hopeful. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this.

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