2008 Olympic Qualifier for baseball in Cuba
We just returned from Havana after evaluating 3 stadiums/ fields for the 2006 Olympic Qualifier which will be held next month in Cuba. What was interesting is that the city and area hasn’t changed very much since we were there. (Actually hasn’t changed to much since the late 1950’s.) The main stadium field in Havana was re-grassed a few years ago and looks a lot better. Not yet 100%… but its a start for a country that has few resources for baseball field development. The tournament will be held in 3 stadiums Latino Americana, Nelson Fernandez and Santiago Changa. All of which are within 30 minutes of downtown Havana.
Twelve teams will compete for 2 slots in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This will be the last Olympics for baseball and softball unless the IOC makes a change in 2009. We will have to wait an see. Regardless of that issue… this tournament is going to be very exciting. Caribbean baseball always is! The delegation party in the photo performing the evaluations is (left to right) Carlos Acosta President of Cuban Baseball federation, Stanley Javier MLB Players Union, Pedro Almenares Baseball Facility Manager, Lou Melendez MLB VP International Operations, myself and Luis Contador Secretary General Cuban Baseball. Since many of the players in the tournament are to be borrowed from MLB owned clubs the need to have the facilities in pretty good condition are required.
The countries head groundskeeper, Pedro Almenares is a good Friend from the previous event. He actually played in the Dodgers Organization in the early 50’s with Sandy Koufax and many others major leaguers. He is currently responsible for the youth development of the Cuban baseball federation overseeing several youth fields and a very nice youth baseball stadium.
This photo shows the new turf at Latino Americano.
More to come on this project and the growth of international baseball.