World Baseball Classic
Japan will try to retain its WBC title in 2026; the Asian nation defeated the U.S. in the championship game in Miami, Florida, in 2023 Via

SEATTLE - Thirteen years after hosting its last World Baseball Classic game, the iconic Puerto Rican ballpark Hiram Bithorn Stadium will once again serve as a venue for the biggest baseball tournament in the world.

Puerto Rico will once again serve as hosts of the World Baseball Classic in March 2026. For the fourth time in tournament history, the best baseball players around the Caribbean and the Atlantic will compete for a spot in the knockout rounds of the tournament.

San Juan has made its return to the rotation for the first time since 2013. Miguel Romero, Mayor of San Juan said the island is prepared to deliver a top-tier experience and added that "the return of the World Baseball Classic to Puerto Rico reaffirms our city's capacity to host major international events and our commitment to bring the best baseball in the world to our shores."

Did you know?

The venue selected to host the pool games has also been the home of an MLB team. Between 2003 and 2004, the Montreal Expos played 22 games at the San Juan stadium before moving to Washington, D.C. Throughout that stint, the Expos went 13-9 before 301,082 fans (an average of 13,685 per game).

Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Puerto Rico
Hiram Birthon Stadium opened in 1962 and hosted 22 Montreal Expos games between 2003-04 Tomas van Houtryve/Via Herald Record

The stadium can accommodate up to 18,000 fans and is also used for concerts and festivals. It gets its name from Hiram Birthon, the first Puerto Rican to play in the major leagues. In 2014, it was added to the United States' National Register of Historic Places.

Hiram Birthon Stadium is a place with plenty of history in the WBC. The venue is the place where Dutch pitcher Shairon Martis threw the only no-hitter in the history of the tournament in a 10-0 win over Panama in 2006.

Shairon Martis no-hitter vs Panama in 2006

In 2013, the stadium held six pool games with Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic advancing to the next round. Both teams ended up meeting three times that year, including in the final. The Dominican Republic won its first and only title with an unbeaten record of 8-0.

So far, 16 teams have already qualified for the 2026 edition. Cuba, Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have already secured a place. The 2023 tournament had a record of eight Latin American countries competing for the trophy.

The city of Miami, who hosted the semifinals and final of the 2023 edition, also returns for 2026. As one of the cities with the most Latinos in the United States, Miami has held four Caribbean Series including the one in 2024. The city also served as a venue for first round pool games in 2013 and 2017.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.