July 18 - The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Play Ball 2020 campaign is set to travel to the United Kingdom for the opening of the nation's first dedicated baseball and softball facility.
Three years of work from BaseballSoftballUK, and funding from Sport England and the Major League Baseball (MLB) Baseball Tomorrow Fund has led to the birth of the arena - the first of its kind in Britain - at Farnham Park in Slough.
The facility, which will be officially unveiled to the public with an Opening Ceremony this Saturday (July 20), features a full size international standard baseball field and three softball/youth baseball fields that will be used to host the domestic league, with a vision to host international events, as well as being available for community use.
The fields have been in use since June this year, but the opening ceremony will take place to celebrate the huge step in the development of baseball and softball in the UK with a day of bat and ball sports.
The annual BSF Single-Sex Slowpitch National Championships will also take place on the softball fields during the opening, while local schools and youth groups take part in a T-ball tournament.
Activity on the fields will stop for the celebrations, to be hosted by sports broadcaster Colin Murray, which will feature the ceremonial first pitch and the laying of a base from the World Baseball Classic Qualifier gifted to BaseballSoftballUK by MLB.
Following the Ceremony, there will be a series of exhibition matches, which will be attended by a wide range of invitees and celebrity guests, including a game between the GB Lions national team and a domestic All-Star side, a men's slowpitch softball match-up between Japanese club side the Godzillas and the Guernsey National Team, and an inter-squad game between the British fastpitch softball teams, who recently returned from the European Championships in Prague.
With less than two months to go until the final sport to be added to the 2020 Olympic programme is decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its session in Buenos Aires on September 7, the event will also feature exhibitions from the WBSC as it looks to drum up further international support for the campaign.
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