SEC baseball tournament staying put through 2016

By: AP
By: AP

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) -- The Southeastern Conference baseball
tournament is staying in Hoover for at least five more years after
the league opened up the bidding process to other cities.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced an agreement Thursday with
the Alabama Sports Foundation and the city of Hoover to keep the
tournament at Regions Park through 2016.
The league received bids for hosting the five-day,
double-elimination tournament from New Orleans, Montgomery, Ala.,
Memphis, Duluth, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fla., said SEC assistant
commissioner Craig Mattox, the tournament's executive director.
"The bids were all very competitive," Slive said. "There are
pluses and minuses at every site, but after a thorough review, we
decided that we would stay here at Regions Park in Hoover.
"They were competitive in every way, and they also had the
benefit of having run a successful tournament with us over the
years. Our fans have responded very positively to this location."
Mattox said location and the adjacent RV park were big selling
points for choosing to keep the tournament in the Birmingham
suburb.
It has been held in Hoover since 1998, but the previous deal
expired after the 2011 tournament, which runs from May 25-29.
League members LSU and South Carolina have won the past two
national titles.
The SEC said the event drew tournament records of more than
126,000 fans and 10,000 per game last year. The top 15 crowds in
tournament history have come at Regions Park.
"SEC baseball supporters have had a major impact on the success
of this event, and we look forward to continuing to provide them
with a great environment and experience," Slive said.
He said SEC games will surpass 2 million in attendance this
season and, average more than 5,000 fans for the first time. More
than 130 games will be televised under the league's deal with ESPN,
he said, "which is really unpredecented television coverage for
college baseball."
Hoover has made nearly $6 million in stadium renovations over
the last five years, including the installation of a high
definition videoboard.
Finding a hotel room could be an issue for some visiting fans in
the wake of the April 27 tornado that hit the state, including the
Birmingham area.
"We did have a lot of rooms secured and blocked prior to the
tornadoes so the teams and most of their fans should be able to be
accommodated," said Gene Hallman, executive director of the
Alabama Sports Foundation.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
AP-NY-05-19-11 1730EDT


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