The Valley of the Sun will host first-round games of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Arizona Diamondbacks, World Baseball Classic Inc. and Major League Baseball announced Wednesday morning. Games will be held at Chase Field and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Diamondbacks' still sparkly-new spring training stadium, in March of next year.
The area hosted games during the inaugural WBC in 2006, at Chase Field and Scottsdale Stadium. It makes complete sense, with spring training here and the Phoenix area having done this before plus having credentials with MLB from the All-Star Game last summer.
Salt River Fields will be an upgrade from Scottsdale Stadium -- no disrespect to one of the best spring training sites in the nation -- because it seats fans more comfortably, it has more up-to-date amenities and it won't be as big a challenge as far as traffic flow and parking.
This will be the third World Baseball Classic. The tournament brings together the top 16 (four from earlier qualifying) baseball-playing nations in the world for a month-long event with pool play, second round, semifinals and finals. After 2013, the WBC will be held every four years.
Japan is the two-time defending champion. The United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba, South Korea and Australia are among the countries that will participate.