Due to the ongoing impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, that included the cancellation of the 2020 Little League® World Series and Regional Tournaments, the Little League International Board of Directors will postpone the expansion of the Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® World Series until 2022. The decision allows the organization, and its local programs, to fully focus on providing the best 2021 season possible for all players, families, volunteers, and fans.
“After a thorough review of our organization’s strategic initiatives as well as the ongoing uncertainty of how the Coronavirus pandemic will continue to impact the Little League program, the Little League International Board of Directors felt this was the best decision for the success of our organization and for the overall experience of each of our 6,500 local leagues,” said Hugh. E. Tanner, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman. “We look forward to the continued efforts to make the experience at all our regional and World Series tournaments exciting and memorable. The expansion of our Little League Baseball and Little League Softball World Series is one of the centerpieces of our strategic plan, and, while we’re sad to delay these plans, we are excited to welcome more communities to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and Greenville, North Carolina, in 2022.”
As many local Little League programs work on returning to play following the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the decision allows for both Little League International and its 6,500 local leagues to take the time to strategically evaluate their needs for a successful 2021 season. Little League International will continue to focus on providing the resources and guidance for families and volunteers, to help navigate local Little League seasons throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as plan for the Little League International Tournament, where so many Little Leaguers dream of playing in a regional or World Series tournament.
“Over the next year and a half, we are dedicated to providing the best guidance available, as we strategically evaluate and plan for all possible scenarios in 2021 and look forward to continuing our efforts to prepare for expansion and provide the once-in-a-lifetime experience to more children in 2022,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “With the celebration of the 75th Little League Baseball World Series now pushed back until 2022 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is only fitting that the decision to expand remains in coordination with that event, as we get ready to celebrate the next chapter of this iconic event.”
Originally announced in August 2019, the decision was made to expand the number of teams at the Little League Baseball World Series from 16 to 20 and Little League Softball World Series from 10 to 12 with the goal of providing more children with the opportunity to experience the benefits of the World Series, both on and off the field, as well as the overall journey through the Little League International Tournament.
Based on the postponement of the expansion, Little League International will continue to evaluate the timeline of its facility enhancements that are connected to the expansion in Williamsport. More information regarding the expansion, as it becomes available, will be communicated directly to local league officials and can be found on LittleLeague.org.