With an Eye on the 2013 Maccabiah Games, Philanthropists Go to Bat for a Softball and Baseball Complex in Israel

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Responding to the growing love for baseball and softball in Israel, a group of businessmen and ball players from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom have joined forces to build a full-service stadium they hope will be finished in time for the 2013 Maccabiah Games.

A group of businessmen and ball players from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom has launched a project to build a “field of dreams” for the growing leagues of baseball and softball teams in Israel.

In coordination with the Israel Softball Association, the group has kicked off a fundraising program aimed at building a full-size baseball and softball stadium in Israel, just in time for the 2013 Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish athletic event that is the world’s third largest sporting summit.

“We need a full-service facility for Jewish youth from around the world to come to Israel to play softball,” said Lorne Swartz, a Canadian business executive and softball leader of the Canadian Maccabiah team, who is part of the group behind the project. "We come to play here every four years. Why not build a field to the highest standards for our youth and for the next Maccabiah?”

In recent years, baseball and softball have become increasingly popular among athletes and sports fans in Israel. But the lack of facilities has presented barriers for those who want to pick up a bat and glove and head out to the field.

At present, Maccabiah softball games in Israel are held in a rented facility in Petah Tikva, located in the country’s Center District. However, the field was designed for baseball and needs to be converted during the Games to accommodate softball matches.

“This results in less than ideal conditions for softball players,” explained Morrie Frydberg, head of operations for the Canadian Maccabiah softball program. “So a group of us started talking about the need for a proper complex that would include a baseball field, a softball field, change rooms and basically everything you need to support these games.”

In addition to Swartz and Frydberg, the philanthropic group also includes Fred Cohen and Ken Schwartz of the U.S., Jack Fireman of Canada, and Mark Berman of the U.K., who is a veteran of three Maccabiahs and a member of the British Softball Hall of Fame. The group, which plans to have an integrated “Friends of the Field” fundraising program in place by 2010, wants to either expand and improve an existing facility or acquire the rights to build a new complex through one of the major municipalities.

Ami Baran, Executive Director of the Israel Softball Association and a Vice President of the European Softball Federation, will play a key role in developing the new facility.

"I have dreamed of this for years," says Baran. "Now we have the chance to move our program forward. The expansion of the Maccabiah Games to include Women’s Open, Men’s Open, Youth and Men’s senior's competitions, and the growth of the Israel Softball Association, highlight the need for Israel to have a first-class facility for softball and baseball, for kids from around the Jewish world."

Jack Fireman, who heads Canadian softball for Maccabiah Canada, says building this complex will help softball and baseball grow in Israel and spark interest in other countries to participate in the Maccabiah Games’ bat and glove events.

The facility would also allow Israel to play host to other international softball and baseball competitions.

Softball was introduced to the Maccabiah Games in 1981. Kibbutz Gezer built a softball facility with support from North America and hosted the games through 1997. Later, Maccabiah softball games moved to the Baptist Village facility in Petah Tikva, where competitions took place in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

For more information or to schedule an interview regarding this press release, contact:

Ami Baran (Israel)
Tel. +972-52-275-1387

Morrie Frydberg (Canada)

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Ami Baran (Israel)

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Morrie Frydberg (Canada)