The State’s north coast will become the new home plate for the Sydney Blue Sox with regional NSW fans being treated to the return of the Australian Baseball League’s (ABL) premier All-Star series for the first time in three years.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced on Tuesday that the NSW Government will partner with Baseball Australia to hold coveted All-Star games and a home series of the Sydney Blue Sox this weekend at Lismore’s Albert Park and again in 2022.
“Border closures have forced the cancellation of 12 Blue Sox games, resulting in the loss of ticket sales and potentially threatening the future of the team,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Providing this support will enable the Blue Sox to play the remaining games of the 2020/21 season while also giving fans the opportunity to see Australia’s best All-Stars smashing some home runs at Albert Park.
“The Blue Sox games will be broadcast on Fox Sports, Kayo and ABL YouTube while the All-Star games will showcase regional NSW to a live international audience.”
The Sydney Blue Sox will take on the Canberra Cavalry this weekend from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 January, with both teams having Australian national players and players from MLB clubs the New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays participating.
Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee said the NSW Government’s investment in regional sports facilities is paying dividends for regional communities with national level games being played at regional grounds.
“We know sport is the lifeblood of so many regional towns and elite sports facilities attract new players, boost health and fitness and importantly, allow people to have fun and enjoy themselves,” Mr Lee said.
“We’ve proven our ability to host sporting events in a COVIDSafe way here in NSW and these games are free to the public, so we encourage all baseball fans to attend this weekend.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Energy and the Arts Ben Franklin said thanks to support from the NSW Government, Albert Park in Lismore is the perfect location to host such an event.
“Albert Park has hosted other national championship baseball and softball games since the facility received significant upgrades, including new unisex change rooms, thanks to $4.95 million from the NSW Government’s Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund,” Mr Franklin said.
“These All-Star games will bring much needed tourism dollars into the local shops, eateries and hotels and motels here in Lismore and surrounds.”
Baseball Australia CEO Cam Vale said without the NSW Government support the Sydney Blue Sox season was over, and to bring Lismore’s Albert Park into the solution makes it even better.
“Thanks to the NSW Government we have found not only a solution for the Blue Sox, but an incredibly creative opportunity with an All Stars weekend and continuing the international exposure of the 2020/21 ABL season in these challenging times,” Mr Vale said.
“Albert Park has been a backbone of our Little League National Championships, and the support we have received from the Far North Coast Baseball Community, Lismore City Council and NSW Government has been nothing short of phenemonal.”