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Is WBC a success despite poor attendance for final round?

March 19, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Members of the Dominican Republic team celebrate after winning their semifinal game against the Netherlands in San Francisco.
Members of the Dominican Republic team celebrate after winning their semifinal… (D. Ross Cameron / European…)

San Francisco — As the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico prepared to play the World Baseball Classic championship game in front of huge chunks of empty seats at AT&T Park, the chief executive of the San Francisco Giants pronounced the event a success.

"We'd do it again, sure," Giants CEO Larry Baer said Tuesday.

Baer estimated a crowd of 30,000 to 32,000 for the title game. The semifinal games drew 27,527 and 33,683 to AT&T Park, which has a capacity of 41,815.

The crowds probably would have been larger if the United States had not been knocked out of the tournament last week. Baer said the Giants did not believe sellout crowds would be assured.

"We didn't necessarily have that expectation, not knowing who the participants would be," he said.

The Giants have fielded complaints from season-ticket holders upset that they paid top dollar for guaranteed seats to the three games here, only to see tickets discounted to as little as $5. Baer said the Giants are "reaching out" to disgruntled fans, without saying exactly what the team might do to resolve the dissatisfaction.

The Giants also donated about 2,000 tickets for each of the three games to youth and military groups, said Staci Slaughter, senior vice president of communications.

Baer, echoing what MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told The Times on Monday, said baseball's objective in staging the WBC is not so much to sell out games in the United States as it is to grow the sport abroad.

"By that measure, it's hard to say it's anything but a success," Baer said.

Stadiums in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are showing Tuesday's championship game for free, live on the big screen. According to MLB, the Japan-Puerto Rico semifinal was seen on 51% of television sets turned on in Japan and 74% of sets turned on in Puerto Rico.

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