After months of speculation about its future, the SEC Baseball Tournament will remain at Hoover, AL’s Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The event is set to return to the ballpark next year, and for a yet-to-be-determined period beyond 2017.
Hoover kept the tournament amidst a bidding process that saw competitive entries from four other cities, including New Orleans, Memphis, Jacksonville, and Nashville. With bigger markets and similar-sized ballparks, some of which offered the potential for renovations, on the table, Hoover prevailed through an enticing bid package that calls for elaborate upgrades over the next several seasons.
Headlining this round of improvements is an indoor events center that will feature a covered walkway to Hoover Met. Also on tap are regulation-sized practice fields and additional RV parking spaces, a slate of upgrades that ultimately won over SEC officials. More from AL.com:
In explaining why the conference elected to stay in Hoover as opposed to move to one of four other sites that expressed interest, [commissioner Greg] Sankey said the new facility “very much set that situation apart” from the other options.
“There will be an event center just adjacent to where right field is currently, outside the footprint of the stadium, that will be available for a fanfare type atmosphere, food, some entertainment, (and) also accommodate our teams in a new way,” Sankey said in his closing remarks at SEC Spring Meetings Friday in Destin, Florida. “In 2018, what is planned is six practice fields immediately adjacent to the current baseball stadium. One of those to mirror exactly the dimensions of the Hoover Met. So our teams can go warmup in a place that’s right there, our fans can see that, rather than standing outside for their team to play when a game might run long.”
Hoover Met has been upgraded extensively over the years to accommodate the tournament, which has been its main attraction since the departure of the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) after the 2012 season. The audio and video systems were upgraded to accommodate the tournament, while the dimensions have been reconfigured to match Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series.