Baseball seeks permanent Series site

The search for a permanent American Legion Baseball World Series site is narrowing down as suitable cities are stepping up to the plate. The idea to have a permanent site was addressed more than 15 years ago, and it's now moving forward in full swing.

Each year before the World Series site is selected, the Legion faces a common challenge: transportation fees. As fuel prices continue to increase, so does The American Legion's transportation expenses for getting players to the World Series, as well as to national regionals.

"There have been many costs related to the expense of fuel, such as transportation of players, that the American Legion's budget has gone beyond what we can absorb anymore," American Legion National Baseball Subcommittee Chairman Larry Price said. "And the Legion is extremely generous for taking care of expenses for teams going to these national tournaments. Many youth baseball organizations do not provide any expenses for teams playing in a national regional tournament, whereas the Legion provides the motel room, meals, transportation, umpires, etc., as part of our service to the youth of this country."

To help offset the high expenses, a few changes have been made; others are in the process. For example, coaches registering their team for the baseball season now have a national administration fee, a first in 85 years. And moving forward, a permanent World Series site will eliminate unexpected transportation and hotel expenses, and allow the Legion to find creative ways to increase sponsorship and game attendance.

There are a few cities in the running to permanently host the Legion World Series site. Legion baseball staff have begun outweighing many costs associated with each bid, such as hotel prices and transportation fees to the city and baseball field. Bids are also being accepted for regional sites, which will be under a two-year contract, with possible extension upon assessment after the first year. Various regions have submitted bids, but there are a few areas where bids are needed.

"It's a lot of work preparing for the World Series and regionals, but the teams can earn income - especially if they get people in the stands, because fans are going to buy souvenirs and concession stand food," Price said. "(Being a host city) also brings in revenue to the community because of the sales tax from the hotels tax."

After Legion baseball staff weighs each World Series bid, an onsite inspection will be conducted before voting for a permanent site can begin. National Commander Clarence Hill has appointed a three-person committee to conduct the onsite inspections, which includes immediate Past National Commander Dave Rehbein. The committee will review location and cost of hotels, the city's host committee structure, government and community support, and conditions of the ball park.

"I'm excited to be serving on the committee," Rehbein said. "I'm extremely confident that The American Legion can find that single site to become the permanent home for the World Series and work out a wonderful partnership with the community."

Once onsite inspections are complete - a task to be accomplished by May - the voting process will get underway. A baseball committee comprised of eight National Americanism Commission members will be the first to cast their votes after they listen to each city's host committee present a speech on their reasoning for being the permanent site. After the baseball committee makes its bid, it will hand their bid recommendation to more than 25 National Americanism Commission members from across the country. The Legionnaires will vote and present their choice to the National Executive Committee, which will then make the final decision - one that will be announced this year by the end of NEC Spring Meetings.