Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® World Series to Expand in 2021

Team Means Everything Here.
Projected expansion to provide more teams the opportunity to experience the World Series each summer with facility enhancements.

 

To provide the World Series experience to more children around the world, the Little League® International Board of Directors has approved expanding the number of teams at the Little League Baseball® World Series to 20 and Little League Softball® World Series to 12, starting in 2021.

“The Board has been discussing the future of the Little League International Complex and our World Series tournaments since restructuring our teenage divisions in 2016 with a goal of more support and programing for Little League participants and establish a long-term plan for improving the facilities at our Williamsport headquarters,” said Hugh E. Tanner, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman. “The Little League World Series experiences are perhaps the most incredible moments these 10- to 12-year-olds will ever have, and we want to provide that opportunity to more boys and girls each year and ensure that the facilities hosting these tournaments are ready to accommodate these additional teams, their families, and fans.”

Set to launch in 2021 in coordination with the celebration of the 75th Little League Baseball World Series, the new expansion will allow for two additional teams from the United States and two additional international teams to participate in the Little League Baseball World Series as well as two additional teams to compete at the Little League Softball World Series.

Learn More About the 2021 LLWS Expansion

The decision stemmed from the Little League International Board of Directors annual spring meeting in 2019, where an ad-hoc committee was established consisting of representatives from both the United States and International Regions and the Chairs of the sub-committees of the Board to evaluate the idea of expansion before presenting the opportunity to the entire Board during the August 2019 meeting. During that August meeting, held at the Little League Baseball World Series on Friday, August 23, the Board voted to approve the decision.

“The heart of this expansion is providing more children and more volunteers with a once-in-a-lifetime experience at our World Series tournaments,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “The only impact this will have on our local leagues is that there are more opportunities for more teams to participate. Our leagues’ regular seasons and earlier tournament games will not be impacted. Our commitment to supporting our local leagues through Grow the Game grant programs, low affiliation fees, and educational resources will continue to thrive and hopefully expand, and the support from all of our partners and official sponsors is stronger today than it has ever been.”

The proposed regional alignments for the expansions were determined to provide local Little League programs in all of our regions with more opportunities to qualify for the Little League World Series based on Little League’s regional structure, geographical proximity, and partially based on the number of affiliated teams in each state, country, and region. Little League International has, and will continue to, evaluate its regional alignments in every division of the Little League program on an annual basis to provide an equal and fair opportunity to all its local leagues.

In addition to the expansion, the Little League International Board of Directors approved a series of facilities improvements to the Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pa., including the addition of dormitories, as well as improved infirmary and laundry facilities, to accommodate the additional teams. Enhancements to the fan experience through improved parking, restrooms, gift shop, and other areas are planned. Little League International will also work with the future location of the Little League Softball World Series to fully accommodate for the expansion of the Little League Softball World Series. The overall project to enhance facilities in both Williamsport and the future location of the Little League Softball World Series is estimated to cost $15 million. To finance the facility improvements and expansion, Little League will utilize reserved funds to ensure there is no financial impact to local Little League programs.

A brief overview of the expansion impact for each of the Little League Baseball and Little League Softball World Series can be found below. For more information on the decision to expand, including Frequently Asked Questions for local leagues and families, visit LittleLeague.org/2021.


Little League Baseball World Series (Williamsport, Pa.)

The Little League Baseball World Series expansion will add two additional teams from the United States and two international teams to increase the total number of participating teams to 20 starting in 2021. The United States field will establish two new regions with the Metro Region and the Mountain Region, effectively dividing the East and West Regions, respectively, into three sub-regions at the Little League Baseball division.

United States Regional Breakdown:

  • New England Region: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts
  • Metro Region: New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island
  • Mid-Atlantic Region: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C.
  • Southeast Region: West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama
  • Southwest Region: Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas East, Texas West, Colorado, New Mexico
  • Great Lakes Region: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky
  • Midwest Region: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas
  • West Region: Hawaii, Northern California, Southern California, Arizona
  • Northwest Region: Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
  • Mountain Region: Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada

International Regional Breakdown:

A three-year rotation for direct entry into the Little League Baseball World Series will be established between Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Panama with two teams earning an automatic bid to the tournament each year and the remaining team competing through its respective regional tournament. The order for that rotation will be determined at the annual Little League Baseball World Series Luncheon held in June 2020. These teams will join the existing international regions: Asia-Pacific Region, Australia Region, Canada Region, Caribbean Region, Europe & Africa Region, Japan Region, Latin America Region, and Mexico Region.

With the expansion, the Little League Baseball World Series will begin one day earlier starting in 2021, but the schedule change will not have any impact on the start of the Regional tournaments and below.


Little League Softball World Series

The Little League Softball World Series expansion will add two more teams from the United States to the participating field, growing the total number of teams to 12 starting in 2021. The current Little League Softball World Series East Region will be divided into the Mid-Atlantic and New England Regions, and the current West Region will be divided into the Northwest and West Regions.

United States Regional Breakdown:

  • New England Region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • Mid-Atlantic Region: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C.
  • Southeast Region: West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama
  • Southwest Region: Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas East, Texas West, Colorado, New Mexico
  • Central: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas
  • West Region: Arizona, Hawaii, Northern California, Nevada, Southern California, Utah
  • Northwest Region: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming

Additional information regarding the 2021 Little League Baseball and Little League Softball World Series, including the projected facility upgrades and more, will be available following the fall meeting of the Little League International Board of Directors.


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