JERUSALEM (JTA) – Plans to build the first regulation baseball stadium in Israel have gathered steam in the wake of Team Israel’s surprisingly strong performance in the World Baseball Classic.
Members of Team Israel participated in the groundbreaking for the complex in Beit Shemesh, a city located near Jerusalem with a large ex-patriate American population. Most of the team roster was American Jewish players with major and minor league experience who came in December with their families to visit Israel and meet Israeli fans before representing the country in the international tournament.
It is one of several baseball fields being built in Israel through the Jewish National Fund’s Project Baseball.
Following Team Israel’s three victories in the first round of the World Baseball Classic and its win in the first game of the second round, the Beit Shemesh stadium project has received donations from around the world through a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign, bringing the total to $11,000 as of Tuesday morning. The goal is $850,000.
The city of Beit Shemesh provided the Israel Association of Baseball with the land for the complex, which will include a regulation-size baseball field for adult play and two smaller fields for youth baseball, batting cages, dugouts, lights and spectator stands.
The Israel Association of Baseball, founded in 1986 by a group of expatriate baseball enthusiasts living in Israel with the goal of promoting and teaching the game of baseball in Israel, has been renting local soccer fields for games and practices. It has about 1,000 participants throughout the country from Little League to adult.