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Confederation of European Baseball

Friday, July 31, 2015

New International Baseball Center opens in Ashbourne, Ireland

Press Release Ashbourne Baseball, Baseball Ireland

Ashbourne Baseball and Baseball Ireland have announced the opening of the International Baseball Centre, a new international standard baseball facility located in Ashbourne. The new facility will be the home of the Ashbourne Giants youth and adult baseball teams, will support the establishment of a new National Academy for the baseball National Team programme, and will be a centre for hosting international tournaments.

The official opening of the new facility will be held on the weekend of the 8th and 9th August, with the 8th being a local Ashbourne opening, featuring games for all age groups of the Ashbourne Giants, and the 9th being the official Baseball Ireland opening, featuring adult league games from top clubs as well as a demonstration from the Women’s Fastpitch Softball National Team, just back from their European Championships tournament in the Netherlands last week.

The first international tournament will be held at the new facility from the 19th-23rd August, with teams travelling to Ireland from Mexico, the USA, Belgium, and a youth team from the Netherlands. The senior and youth Irish National Baseball Teams will also be competing in this tournament. Earlier that week, from the 17th-19th, a youth camp will also be held at the field with players from the National Team providing coaching for the kids.

The International Baseball Centre is located behind the Ashbourne Community Centre on land leased from the Ashbourne & District Community Council. This initial phase of development in the project, which has had a budget of €250,000, has been made possible by grant funding from the LEADER fund through Meath Partnership, and by donations from Atlantic Philanthropies, the Baseball United Foundation in New York, and many private individuals, fundraising events, and support from local Ashbourne businesses.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Sean Mitchell, President of Ashbourne Baseball and Manager of the Irish National Baseball Team, said, “We’re very proud to be able to announce the opening of this new sporting amenity for Ashbourne. The baseball club in Ashbourne, which was founded in 2009, has been going from strength to strength with seven members selected to the panel of this year’s senior National Team, and one female youth member to the Fastpitch Softball National Team. We’re confident that the establishment of a solid base for the club at the new International Baseball Centre will spur further membership growth and that our plans to build festivals around the international baseball tournaments will bring many benefits to the broader Ashbourne community.”

Peter Kavanagh, Baseball Ireland President, commented, “This is a one of a kind facility in Ireland and is of high strategic importance for Baseball Ireland on a national scale. The International Baseball Centre will provide the facilities required to establish a National Academy that can identify high potential young athletes and get them into a structured coaching programme to prepare them for representing their country on the international stage.”

Baseball Ireland’s Chairman, Mike Kindle, said, “Having been intimately involved in the establishment of the first dedicated baseball fields in Ireland in Corkagh Park, Clondalkin, which opened in 1998, I have first-hand experience of how challenging it can be to get projects such as this one off the ground. It’s a great credit to the Ashbourne community to have come together to support this project and to put Ireland in a position to host major international baseball tournaments, including European Championships.”

John Fitzgerald, of the Baseball United Foundation from New York, said, “This is exactly the kind of project that fits well with the goals of the Baseball United Foundation and we're proud to have played a small part in the process. This facility is a huge step for baseball teams and leagues in Ireland and we are excited by the impact it will have on the future of Irish baseball.”

Speaking about his support of the project through the LEADER programme, Micheal Ludlow, CEO of Meath Partnership commented, "The International Baseball Centre project in Ashbourne is a great example of how the LEADER programme can enable the development of new facilities that will attract international visitors to the area in a sustainable way. We're very pleased to have been a part of this prestigious project."

President of the Ashbourne Chamber of Commerce, Bee Flanagan, commented, “I am delighted with the great launch of Ashbourne baseball field. This will be a valuable asset for local and national clubs, for our young people in the town and another facility to attract people to visit Ashbourne. Congratulations to all involved in bringing this about.”

William Brennan, Public Participation Network Representative for Ashbourne Electoral Area said, “This is a great testament to all those involved to have managed to deliver this major project for the benefit of the community of Ashbourne and in fact it is going to be of great benefit for the county and country as a whole! It will be huge boost for the town and will bring people to Ashbourne from far and wide and even from other countries. Well done on a superb effort!”

Cllr Sean Smith said, “I very much welcome the new International Baseball Centre in Ashbourne and wish to congratulate Ashbourne Baseball Club on a wonderful achievement with this facility. As a baseball fan myself, I am looking forward to visiting this facility to enjoy games and to take my children for coaching with the Ashbourne Giants. Baseball is a cornerstone of American culture and has developed in many countries. The new International Baseball Centre will attract tourism to the area and can be central to promoting the quality lifestyle in the community as we drive Economic Development. I wish Ashbourne Baseball Club the best of luck with the launch of the superb grounds and look forward to being of assistance in further development.”

Cllr Alan Tobin said,  "If you build it they will come" a reference to the Kevin Costner film "Field of Dreams" in which a crazed baseball fanatic decides to build a baseball ground despite all the pit-falls before him. Ashbourne Baseball endured a similar path and has defied the odds and built a WORLD class baseball ground right here in Ashbourne in County Meath. They follow in the footsteps of the High Kings of Tara, Newgrange, Slane Castle and Tayto Park to name just some of the local points of interest elsewhere in the area. Looking at this from a business and a political perspective, I can see this ground attracting teams and tourists from all over the continents of Europe and the America's well into the future. I look forward to welcoming these people to our town. I also see it as an added attraction when trying to entice foreign direct investment into the area and in particular the US and Canada. This town, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Sean Mitchell, David Shier and their team of excellent committee members, now has an ace up its sleeve and will be the envy of all other towns around the country. We really do cater for ALL sports and backgrounds here and I want to wish Ashbourne Baseball all the best in the future with this home run!”

About Ashbourne Baseball
Ashbourne Baseball was founded in 2009 as a youth and adult baseball club, catering to boys and girls aged 5 and upwards. The club now boasts in excess of 50 members and, going under the name of “Ashbourne Giants” has teams competing in leagues at multiple age levels including the adult national leagues. The club has had a number of members selected to represent Ireland in international competition at both youth and senior levels and has also had some members awarded scholarships to travel to the US to access elite coaching clinics.

About Baseball Ireland
Baseball Ireland was established in 1989 as the National Governing Body for the sport of baseball in the thirty-two counties of Ireland. Baseball Ireland administers youth and adult leagues throughout the country as well as providing clinics for the development of coaches, umpires and other officials. Baseball Ireland also administers the National Team programme and Ireland has competed internationally since 1996, playing in countries such as the USA, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Croatia, Sweden, Germany, Slovenia and Austria.

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