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Host venues decided for 2026 World Baseball Classic

Featured image credit: loanDepot park

Miami Marlins’ loanDepot park will again stage the finale to the World Baseball Classic (WBC), while fellow MLB venue, Minute Maid Park, will host games for the first time as the venues for the 2026 edition of the national team tournament were confirmed.

World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) has said the sixth instalment of the Classic, which is scheduled for March 2026, will take place at loanDepot park; Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros; Tokyo Dome in Japan; and Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

LoanDepot park in Miami, which became the first venue in tournament history to host games in all three rounds of a World Baseball Classic in the same year in 2023, will once again host contests in each of the three rounds in 2026, culminating with the Championship Game.

“Following a record-breaking World Baseball Classic in 2023, loanDepot park showcased that it is the home of international baseball, and we are proud to once again bring the incredible tournament back to South Florida, the go-to destination for jewel global events,” said Marlins chairman and principal owner, Bruce Sherman.

Minute Maid Park becomes the ninth different MLB  ballpark to host WBC contests, joining Chase Field in Phoenix (2006, 2013, 2023); Petco Park in San Diego (2006, 2009, 2017); Angel Stadium in Anaheim (2006); Rogers Centre in Toronto (2009); Dolphin Stadium in Miami (2009); Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (2009, 2017); Oracle Park in San Francisco (2013); and loanDepot park in Miami (2013, 2017, 2023).

Astros owner and chairman, Jim Crane, said: “Houston is a global city with the best baseball fans, and we are proud to welcome fans from across the globe to watch international competition at Minute Maid Park.”

Tokyo Dome, which has hosted pools in each of the previous five World Baseball Classics (2006, 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2023), will again be home to first round games in 2026. Takashi Yamada, chief officer of culture and sports projects at ballpark owner, Yomiuri Shimbun, said: “The previous tournament in 2023, in which the Japan national team became world champions, generated a great deal of excitement in Japan, and the increase in the number of children becoming interested in baseball was a great benefit to the baseball world.

“We will do our utmost to bring the excitement and inspiration of the World Baseball Classic to the world once again, and to ensure the success and development of the tournament.”

Hiram Bithorn Stadium returns as a Classic host in 2026 after serving as a first-round venue in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Anaymir Muñoz, vice-president of MB Sports, said: “We have been at the forefront of Major League Baseball on the island for over 23 years, establishing ourselves as the country’s leading sports producer.

“We promise an unprecedented event that will not only honour our rich baseball history but will also mark the beginning of an exciting future. Baseball fans in Puerto Rico and around the world should be prepared for an unforgettable experience.”

The 2023 Classic was originally due to be held in 2021, only for it to be rescheduled to last year due to COVID-19. In 2023, the field of teams expanded to 20 for the first time in the tournament’s history.

The 16 teams that finished within the top four of their respective first round pools in the 2023 Classic are invited to play in 2026 and will be joined by four teams that will have advanced from the 2025 Qualifiers.

The World Baseball Classic is sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) as the sport’s official national team world championship.