Prince Albert bidding to host 2024 WBSC Senior Men’s World Cup

Daily Herald File Photo Packed crowds were commonplace during the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s World Softball Championships at the Max Power Ball Parks.

After successfully hosting the 2018 World Baseball Softball Conferences’ Junior Men’s Softball World Championship, the host legacy committee for that tournament is looking to bring an even bigger event to the city.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, co-chair Felix Casavant revealed that a bid is being put together for Max Power Ball Parks to serve as the venue for the 2024 Senior Men’s World Cup.

“The first step for us was to get support from council and it was awesome to get unanimous support from them,” said Casavant, who is joined as a chair by Derek Smith.

“We are now going forward with our bid package to Softball Canada and we’re going to be competing with St. John’s, N.L., who are also interested in hosting the event. If we clear that hurdle, our bid will go to the WBSC and we should know by the end of October if we are successful.”

Softball Canada sent a memo out in July with a list of potential world tournaments that they are looking to host in the coming years, with the Senior Men’s World Cup being the one that stood out the most for the Prince Albert committee.

The tournament, which is expected to generate an economic impact of $10-12 million for the city, is held every four years.

“It’s the most elite level of softball in the world and it’s a step higher from the 2015 World Championships that were held in Saskatoon,” Casavant said.

“When that event was held, any country that wanted to take part in the event could take part. The WBSC made a change this past year to the format where there’s now preliminary playoffs just to get into the field. As a result, only the top-12 countries will be here for nine days.”

This year’s competition is set to be held in Roanoke Valley, Va. in October, but that remains up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the Prince Albert bid is successful, expanded seating will be added around the diamond at Rotary Field and on the sidelines at the Kinsmen Field.

“We averaged around the 1,500 to 2,000 mark for our big games two years ago, with our biggest crowd being close to 4,000 for the round-robin game against New Zealand,” Casavant said.

“When it comes to the men’s worlds, we’re looking at average crowds of 2,500 to 3,000, with the biggest games drawing close to 5,000. We want to make sure that our venues are big enough to host that many people.”

While there is still a long way to go before they find out if the event will come to Prince Albert, the host committee feels that the job they did two years ago will help in the bid process.

“Softball Canada and the WBSC have both said that our facilities are at the highest level and they loved the fact the Art Hauser Centre was close by,” Casavant said.

“The 2018 tournament is still fairly recent in everyone’s mind, so we’re hoping that helps us out a bit.”

–With files from Jason Kerr