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04/30/2009 1:04 PM ET
Pittsburgh Pirates open new Latin American Headquarters and Training Complex in Dominican Republic
Complex Is Another Step In Pirates Aggressive Strategy To Target International Markets
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have officially opened the team's Latin American headquarters and baseball training complex in the Dominican Republic. The new complex, located in the municipality of El Toro, demonstrates the organization's commitment to providing the tools necessary to build and sustain a championship caliber organization.

The campus style complex features two and one half fields, covered batting cages, bullpens, a clubhouse capable of holding more than two full teams, weight rooms, trainers' rooms, classrooms, conference rooms, recreation rooms, administration offices and a dormitory capable of housing 90 players, coaches and personnel.

It will serve as the Latin American headquarters for the Pirates baseball operations, as well as the training and housing facility for players on the ballclub's Dominican Summer League roster and other players invited to train at the academy.

"We are proud to open what is now recognized as one of the best baseball training complexes in the Dominican Republic and throughout Latin America. I am extremely pleased that we will now have a complex that is equal to the quality of the people we have leading our Latin American baseball operations," said Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting. "This is a tangible demonstration of our desire to provide the tools and resources necessary to maximize every opportunity to find and develop quality talent. Finding and developing talent in the rich Latin American markets, as well as in other international markets, is a top priority for our club."

Nutting was joined at the grand opening ceremonies by Pirates President Frank Coonelly, Senior Vice President and General Manager Neal Huntington, as well as Dominican Republic President Dr. Leonel Fernandez Reyna, Sports Minister Felipe Payano, as well as family members of Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.

"This complex is one of the very best in the Dominican Republic and will have an immediate positive impact on our operations in Latin America. Much like our newly renovated Pirate City complex in Bradenton, Florida, this complex will serve all the needs of the Pirates baseball operations staff and players in one centralized location," said Coonelly. "This complex will greatly enhance our position in Latin America as we regain our status as a leader in the development of talent in this region that is rich in talent and passion for baseball."

Of all the international players in the Major Leagues today, more than 40-percent come from the Dominican Republic. With the Pirates increased emphasis on developing talent in the region, the new complex was designed to allow for a future increase in the number of players, the number of fields and the number of Pirates Dominican Summer League affiliate teams.

"This complex will give us the tools necessary to develop our players both as baseball players and young men. They will be trained in language and life in order to reach their full potential as players and productive members of their communities," said Huntington. "It is yet another step in our aggressive strategy to find and develop talent in international markets. We have recently added three full-time international scouts to find quality talent in Taiwan, Korea, Australia and Europe and continue to expand our footprint in other regions as well."

In Latin America, the Pirates currently have 19 scouts covering nine Latin American countries, including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Curacao and more. In addition, while other Major League Baseball teams have abandoned operations in Venezuela, the Pirates continue to field an affiliate team in the Venezuelan Summer League and are aggressively pursuing talent in the country.

Family members of Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, including his wife Vera, and sons Luis and Roberto, Jr., were on hand to participate in the opening ceremonies, including the dedication of the main field in Roberto Clemente's name. The Pirates and the Clemente family unveiled a four-foot tall stone monument featuring a bronze replica of Roberto Clemente's Hall of Fame plaque with his player information written in both English and Spanish.

"We felt there was no better way for us to honor what Roberto Clemente represents to the people of Latin America and the Pirates organization here at our new complex than to dedicate our main playing field in his name. The field dedication and monument will inspire our next generation of players to take the same sense of pride in the Pirates organization and being an active in the community as Clemente," added Nutting.

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