Unfortunately, Marlins Park has never hosted any MLB playoff games, and most regular season home games are characterized by sparse attendance. Arguably the best “atmosphere” that the venue has ever had didn’t involve the Fish at all—it was in March 2017 during the World Baseball Classic. On Tuesday morning, CEO Marlins Derek Jeter announced that not only is the WBC returning to Miami next year, but they are taking the unprecedented step to have it involved in all three rounds of the tournament.
In 2021, the World Baseball Classic is coming back to Miami, where it belongs, this time for ALL THREE ROUNDS pic.twitter.com/DgqG5FVdPb— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) February 25, 2020
Jeter was joined on stage by World Baseball Classic president Jim Small, senior director of international & domestic player operations Leonor Colón, former MLB player Grégor Blanco, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos A. Giménez and City of Miami mayor Francis X. Suarez.
Miami will host Pool D of the first round from March 14-18, 2021, followed by the North American quarterfinals, the semifinals and the finals (concluding on Mar. 23).
Since the 2017 WBC, Marlins Park has undergone significant changes. Of course, the home run sculpture—previously installed beyond the left-center field fence—was de-assembled, then recently erected again as part of the art walk outside. The field dimensions are more favorable to hitters, as the distance to straightaway center field has decreased from 407 feet to 400. Right-center is 387 feet (previous 392). After struggling to maintain luscious natural grass, the Fish have pivoted to artificial turf, which is still being installed by Shaw Sports Turf.
The WBC is expanding from 16 to 20 teams for the first time, with qualifiers being held at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona in March to determine the four newcomers. Two teams apiece from Pool 1 (Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Republic of South Africa) and Pool 2 (Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Spain) will advance.
Outfielder Christian Yelich (Team USA) was among the Marlins who participated back in 2017. Rosters for the upcoming WBC won’t be announced until next winter.