Do the Baseball Week Haarlem and the World Port Tournament need a different format?

Where bi-annual baseball tournaments in the Netherlands like the Haarlem Baseball Week (now Baseball Week Haarlem) and the World Port Tournament were sellouts in the eighties and nineties, these tournaments have suffered a downfall in attendance the last decade. In fact, you see the same trend that the regular hoofdklasse competition is suffering from.

In the eighties and nineties, a tournament like the World Port Tournament, needed extra bleachers to house all the fans that passed the turnstiles. Nowadays the grandstand is only (partially) filled when the Dutch national team is playing. Also the Haarlem Baseball Week needed some extra bleachers in the past. But nowadays the regular grandstand is enough to house the attending fans.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Honkbalweek HaarlemFor years, these two tournaments invite teams from Japan, Taiwan and Cuba to participate. Even though the Asian teams are only factory baseball teams or college teams, they are promoted like they are the national teams of Japan and Taiwan. In a distant past, the Dutch team always had a hard time to beat these teams. Nowadays it is easier to beat them. It can mean that the opponents are sending less talented teams, which is the case with Cuba for sure, or Dutch baseball has improved, even though only players from the Dutch hoofdklasse are participating in these tournaments. It is likely a combination of the two.

Personally, I have given up attending these tournaments as I don’t want to pay for a B-grade or even C-grade team from Cuba, Japan or Taiwan. I know more fans think alike.

For years, fans and board members of the KNBSB are discussing how to get fans back in the stands with hoofdklasse games. Perhaps one needs to think about this for both tournaments too.

Perhaps a different format for the tournament itself would help. For years a round-robin is played, followed by semi-finals and a final. Little League tournaments are using a double-elimination format. Perhaps this will make things more interesting. So after the round-robin, a double-elimination format between the first four teams. Perhaps a double-elimination format from game one could be interesting as well. But the downside of a schedule like that is when the Dutch team is eliminated after two games, fans will not show up anymore.

Participating teams: 
Also, a look at the participating teams may be needed. Perhaps an overhaul of the lineup of teams is needed to make things interesting again. At the time, the Honkbalweek Gerelateerde afbeeldingHaarlem (Baseball Week Haarlem) and the World Port Tournament are played, the NCAA season is just over as the College World Series end on June 23, 2020, just before the start of the Haarlem Baseball Week. It may be a good idea to invite an NCAA (division 1) college team to one of the two tournaments. Quality baseball guaranteed.

Both tournaments organize a lot of side entertainment. But all of this entertainment is next to the stadium. Artists perform in special tents. Baseball clinics are given. So there is entertainment but most, if not all is done next to the stadium. How about on-field entertainment? How about silly between-innings games they have with Minor League games? The fans don’t need to leave the stadium for that and it contributes to a great atmosphere.

To survive, I think it is very important for these tournaments, to be inventive, to renew, to dare to change. Perhaps it will help to make critical fans return to the ballpark. Rather do this than get stuck in a format that helps losing fans.

Just my two cents.

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