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04/19/2007 6:02 PM ET
World Baseball Classic, Inc. approves eight invitations for March 2009 tournament
Remaining eight invitations to be determined by year's end; More than $4 million contributed to international development from 2006 tournament revenues
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World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) today announced, with the endorsement of the tournament's Steering Committee, that it would once again hold the 16-team tournament in March, 2009. Also, with the approval of the Steering Committee, WBCI announced its intention to extend initial invitations for the 2009 World Baseball Classic to eight of the 16 teams. The remaining eight teams will be invited in December, 2007. Additionally, the distribution of proceeds from the inaugural tournament was finalized.

The teams that advanced to the second round in the 2006 World Baseball Classic - Cuba, Dominican Republic, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela - will receive the eight initial tournament invitations. The remaining eight invitations will be determined following a period of evaluation and consultation among Steering Committee members.

"We are extremely pleased with the impressive results of the 2006 World Baseball Classic and excited about the momentum and anticipation it has generated for the upcoming 2009 event," said Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball President and Chief Operating Officer. "As international baseball continues to develop and thrive, and the supply of quality baseball nations grows, the task of selecting the 16 deserving teams has become increasingly difficult."

Commenting on the decision to limit the number of initial invitations, Eugene Orza, Chief Operating Officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said: "Numerous countries, far more than we currently can invite, are clamoring to get in. Given the limitations on the size of the field that we face at this date, we want to make sure that the widespread interest in participation gets the attention it deserves."

WBCI also announced the distribution of more than $8 million in proceeds from the inaugural tournament to the participating countries and territories and the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). The monetary awards were distributed based on predetermined percentages of the net revenue corresponding to each team's finish in the tournament. The national federations are set to contribute a minimum of $3.3 million to local baseball programs. In addition, the IBAF received close to $1 million for global game development initiatives.

More than half of the net proceeds of the event went to the participating federations, the IBAF and the charitable partner of the inaugural World Baseball Classic, Habitat for Humanity. The remaining proceeds were divided among the tournament's organizing entities.

WBCI also announced today, with the concurrence of the Steering Committee, that the bid process to determine host venues for the 2009 World Baseball Classic will commence immediately.

About the World Baseball Classic Steering Committee
The World Baseball Classic Steering Committee consists of 12 members representing professional baseball leagues, Club owners, players, international baseball federations and other international organizations affiliated with the game of baseball (for a complete list of members, see below). The Steering Committee provides ongoing guidance regarding the development of the premier international baseball tournament, the World Baseball Classic. The focus of the committee is to assure that the tournament continues to maximize its potential to develop the game of baseball worldwide.

Steering Committee Members
Major League Baseball (2)
Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business
Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Labor Relations

Major League Baseball Players Association (2)
Gene Orza, Chief Operating Officer
Michael Weiner, General Counsel

International Baseball Federation (2)
Harvey Schiller, President
Eduardo de Bello, Panama

Nippon Professional Baseball (1)
Kazuo Hasegawa, Executive Secretary

Japan Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Toru Matsubara, Executive Director

Korean Baseball Organization (1)
Il-Sung Ha, Secretary General

Korean Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Jin-kyun Na, Secretary General

Members-at-large (2)
Gyo Ishiguro, Chief Officer, Culture & Sports Projects, Yomiuri Shimbun
Roland Betts, President & Founder, Chelsea Piers, L.P.

About World Baseball Classic Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event, which was sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. The next tournament is scheduled for March 2009 and will be held every four years thereafter.
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