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Birmingham: We want Hoover to keep SEC tourney

Regions Par

Birmingham (Al.) officials say they will support nearby Hoover’s bid to keep the Southeastern Conference baseball tourney in Regions Park, avoiding an intraregional spat for the rights to the well-attended event.

Things are already tense between Birmingham and Hoover officials over Birmingham’s plans to build a new downtown ballpark and the subsequent agreement by the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) to play there. The ballpark could be ready for the 2012 season, but the Barons did sign a five-year lease extension that will need to be honored or renegotiated once a new ballpark is competed.

But Mayor William Bell threw out a fig leaf, saying that his city would not bid on the tournament and would instead support Hoover’s bid. It’s a smart move. With some strong contenders throwing their hats in the ring to host the tournament — for instance, Montgomery is putting together a bid — there was the chance Hoover and Birmingham would split support, paving the way for a locale shift. Hoover has spent funds on Regions Park specifically to keep the tournament in the past, and we’re guessing that will be a factor.

RELATED STORIES: Barons reach deal to play at new ballpark; Birmingham formally approves downtown ballpark; next up, the Barons; Birmingham approves new downtown ballpark, but second vote needed; New Birmingham ballpark could create $3.8 billion in economic activity: study; Birmingham City Council to vote on new ballpark next week; Birmingham City Council: We support ballpark tax, but we want team first; Birmingham OKs initial ballpark funding plan; Birmingham to discuss downtown ballpark Monday; Downtown ballpark study underway in Birmingham; New ballpark pitched for downtown Birmingham

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