Shelby Connett and Riccardo Fraccari pose during a Baltimore Orioles spring training game in Sarasota, Florida
VSC Director of Sports Shelby Connett and WSBC President Riccardo Fraccari [Photo: Norm Schimmel]
U-18 Baseball World Cup trophy
U-18 Baseball World Cup Trophy [Photo: USA Baseball]
Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley and WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari
Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley and WSBC President Riccardo Fraccari [Photo: Visit Sarasota County]

Sarasota Will Co-Host International Baseball Tournament in 2021

Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida will be the first U.S. cities to host the U-18 Baseball World Cup in 26 years.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) announced it has awarded the hosting rights of the U-18 Baseball World Cup® 2021 to USA Baseball and the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida. This marks the first time since Cape Cod and Fenway Park hosted the 1995 Junior World Championship that the top youth international baseball event will be held in the United States.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference held at the Powel Crosley Estate in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, featuring WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari, USA Baseball President Mike Gaski, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler, Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly, Orioles-Sarasota Vice President David Rovine and representatives from Visit Sarasota County and the Bradenton Area Sports Commission.

USA baseball announcement in Sarasota, Florida
WBSC Announcement at The Powel Crosley Estate [Photo: Visit Sarasota County]

The 30th edition of the U-18 Baseball World Cup will take place in September 2021 and feature the world’s best players from 12 countries in the U-18 category (16 to 18 years old). As the host nation, the USA Baseball 18U National Team—the current four-time defending U-18 world champions—will be granted an automatic berth into the global tournament.

All 50 U-18 World Cup games will be played between Ed Smith Stadium and LECOM Park, the Spring Training homes for Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively.

Team USA is the four-time defending U-18 Baseball World Cup champions (2012, 2013, 2015, 2017) and will look to win an unprecedented fifth consecutive world championship at the 2019 U-18 Baseball World Cup that will be held in Gijang, Republic of Korea, from Friday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019.

“USA Baseball presented an excellent bid, vision and venue plan for one of youth sport’s most prestigious world championships, the U-18 Baseball World Cup,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “The world’s best young players and next generation of superstars will have an iconic stage—the same stadiums where top professionals play and train—to perform and showcase their talents to the passionate fans in the stands and those watching across the world.”

VSC Director of Sports Shelby Connett and WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari pose following announcement at Ed Smith Stadium during a Baltimore Orioles spring training game. [Photo: Norm Schimmel]
VSC Director of Sports Shelby Connett and WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari pose following announcement at Ed Smith Stadium during a Baltimore Orioles spring training game. [Photo: Norm Schimmel]

“USA Baseball is honored to be selected to host the U-18 Baseball World Cup and we aim to provide a truly once-in-a-lifetime baseball experience to the athletes and fans who take part in this premier event,” said USA Baseball President Mike Gaski. “We are proud to partner with the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, to welcome the international baseball community to the birthplace of baseball.”

Sarasota and Bradenton are located south of Tampa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast, a region known for award-winning beaches and a long history of arts and culture. The two cities have jointly hosted numerous international youth and amateur sports competitions including the 2017 World Rowing Championships and the 2017-2018 International Triathlon World Cups.

“Visit Sarasota County and the Orioles are pleased to welcome some of the world’s top baseball players to our region for the 2021 U-18 Baseball World Cup,” said Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley. “We look forward to working with USA Baseball and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to produce a memorable, world-class experience for all participants.”

The successful staging of the 2017 U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada, helped the Thunder Bay International Airport break its all-time monthly passenger record for the month of August, while generating a CAD 6.3 million economic impact on the city, as well as multi- millions in brand exposure for sponsors and commercial partners.

U-18 Baseball World Cup trophy [Photo: USA Baseball]
U-18 Baseball World Cup trophy [Photo: USA Baseball]

The U-18 Baseball World Cups, along with its continental qualifiers, have consistently featured players who have gone on to become some of the biggest names in the sport, such as Japan's Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani; Korea's Shin-Soo Choo; Cuba's Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman; and the United States’ Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Buster Posey.

For more information on the 2021 U-18 Baseball World Cup, visit SarasotaBradenton2021.com, or follow @SARBRAD2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Ticket information will be available in early 2020.

About the World Baseball Softball Confederation

Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland -- the Olympic Capital -- the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is the world governing body for baseball and softball. WBSC has 206 National Federation and Associate Members in 135 countries and territories across Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania, which represent a united baseball/softball sports movement that encompasses over 65 million athletes and attracts approximately 150 million fans to stadiums worldwide annually.

The WBSC governs all international competitions involving official National Teams. The WBSC oversees the Softball World Cups, Softball World Championships (Men, Women, U-19 Men, and U-19 Women), Premier12, World Baseball Classic, and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23 and Women's), as well as baseball and softball events at the Olympic Games.

For more information, visit www.wbsc.org

About USA Baseball

USA Baseball is the national governing body for the sport of baseball in the United States and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee and the World Baseball Softball Confederation. The organization selects and trains the World Baseball Classic, Olympic, Premier12 and Pan Am teams (and all other USA Baseball Professional Teams); the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team; the USA Baseball 18U, 15U and 12U National Teams; and the USA Baseball Women’s National Team, all of which participate in various international competitions each year. The organization is responsible for the continued proliferation and health of the sport, and leads a number of amateur initiatives including PLAYBALL and Pitch Smart. USA Baseball also presents the Golden Spikes Award annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country. For more information, please visit the organization’s official websites: