As the battle to land the SEC Tournament unfolds, Hoover, AL officials say that they are working to ensure that the event does not leave its longtime home.
The SEC bidding process was expected to be competitive. With the tournament up for grabs in 2017 and beyond, Hoover is facing serious competition from four cities: Jacksonville, Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans. Each of those cities are building their bids around minor league ballparks, with all but Jacksonville currently hosting class AAA squads. Including Hoover, all five markets offer ballparks that seat at least 10,000 fans, which is a must to accommodate the tournament’s large crowds.
SEC officials had recently planned a visit to New Orleans, where the New Orleans Zephyrs (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation have partnered on a package that could include renovations to Zephyr Field. Meanwhile, the expansion of the SEC into states such as Texas and Missouri has made Memphis a more viable fit geographically.
At the center of Hoover’s bid is the tournament’s current home ballpark, Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. To meet the growing needs of the SEC, Hoover has made changes to the venue over the last several years, even expanding the capacity and adjusting the dimensions to be more in line with Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park.
If the tournament is to stay in Hoover, more changes could be on tap for the area around the ballpark. An indoor event center could be added to host tournament-related events, while roughly 30 spaces could be added to the current RV parking lot. More from the Hoover Sun:
“I’m very confident,” [Hoover executive director Allen] Pate said in early April. “I think we’re going to be OK.”
However, he declined to elaborate about Hoover’s bid to keep the tournament.
Gene Hallman, president and CEO of the Alabama Sports Foundation, the official organization submitting the bid, said the foundation put forth a very aggressive bid and anxiously awaits a decision from the SEC.
The only other comment Hallman would make is that the city of Hoover’s plans to build a 141,000-square-foot indoor event center next to the 10,500-seat Hoover Met has greatly enhanced the city’s bid. Such a facility could handle a lot of activities for the SEC Baseball Tournament, he said.
The city of Hoover has agreed to pay $3.4 million for the pre-engineered metal building, which will be designed to hold sporting events, banquets and other gatherings. A covered walkway will connect it to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
A final decision could come over the next several weeks. SEC communications director Chuck Dunlap told the Hoover Sun that an agreement might be revealed during the conference’s spring meetings, which are set for the first week of June.