Small crowds have shown up for the inaugural hosting of the Big Ten baseball tournament at Huntington Park. Will the Big Ten be back in Columbus, or will the Big Ten go back to a playoff system putting the tourney at the ballpark of the conference winner?Small crowds have shown up for the inaugural hosting of the Big Ten baseball tournament at Huntington Park. Will the Big Ten be back in Columbus, or will the Big Ten go back to a playoff system putting the tourney at the ballpark of the conference winner?
A crowd of 609 showed up at Huntington Park on a cool day yesterday to see Purdue and Michigan State. And while Big Ten officials can count on larger crowds when Ohio State is playing, it’s safe to say the tourney has not set the world on fire its inaugural season. Seeing as this is a one-year experiment, a decision has to be made as to whether Columbus will keep hosting the tourney. Bob Hunter wants to see the tourney continue at Huntington Park; we’re not so sure it should.
As a baseball conference, the Big Ten is decent in terms of player development (plenty of major leaguers, like the Twins’ Glen Perkins, Big Ten baseball) and subpar in terms of fan support. That’s changing — with new and renovated ballparks at Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State in recent years, fan interest is on the rise — but as a northern conference, the issue of March and April cold weather will continually be a factor.
Still, it would be a bad idea to scrap the idea of using the tourney as a showcase for Big Ten baseball. What the Big Ten should do is rotate the tourney to give all Big Ten teams a shot at hosting. We’re in Minnesota, and we’re guessing not even the hardcores made the effort to attend the tourney, even with the Golden Gophers seeded #2. Kevin Smith of the Minnesota Twins told us directly he wanted a chance at hosting the tourney at Target Field., and we’re guessing some other ballpark managers would like a shot as well. Maybe the thing to do is rotate the tourney every two years and give every Big Ten baseball fan a chance at seeing the tourney in their region.
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