Mayor Bill Foster, on his way to Tampa International Airport to welcome the city's first international spring training team, the Nexon Heros from Seoul, Korea, said he thinks a successful slate of games in 2011 can help St. Petersburg land World Baseball Classic games in 2013.
Foster says private donations will make up just about all of the subsidies the Canadian, Dutch, and Korean teams will receive. Additionally, the city will reap the rewards of hotel stays and retail sales from the squads' two-month visits.
The vision for international baseball in St. Pete is to host a 13-game slate in the spring of 2011, land World Baseball Classic play-in games in the fall of 2011, and a full round of WBC games in the spring of 2013.
While Foster and his sports lobbyist Jim Neader have done a great job of making international contacts in their first year, one has to wonder if the city's handling of the Rays' stadium demands will hurt its WBC chances. I also don't know if Bud Selig would allow WBC games to be played in the the league's only remaining domed stadium.