This year’s SEC baseball tournament will showcase some new amenities at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, including a new ferris wheel and an indoor event center.
After a fairly competitive bidding process that reportedly saw cities such as Memphis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Nashville enter the mix, the SEC announced last year that it would keep the tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The ballpark, and former home of the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League), was to receive upgrades to accommodate future tournaments.
For 2017, Hoover Metropolitan Stadium will debut some new features. At 155,000-square-foot, The Finley Center provides space for events on a year-round basis, as well as those related to the tournament. This year, it will feature an elaborate Fan Fest zone that includes amenities such as a zip line, nine-hole carpet golf course, a virtual reality simulator, and many other amusements.
The ferris wheel will be located between The Finely Center and Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Once used at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, the ferris wheel is estimated to be at least 60 feet tall and will provide a view of the action at the ballpark.
As officials plan for the upcoming tournament, which takes place later this month, these amenities are being viewed as a way to spruce up the fan experience. More from the Hoover Sun:
Fan Fest activities will be free, except for ferris wheel rides, which will cost $5, she said. The ferris wheel will provide people a view into the stadium as they ride, [city events coordinator Erin] Colbaugh said. Each compartment is capable of seating two adults and two children, she said.
The Hoover City Council on Monday night approved a $122,000 contract with Classic Events to put on the Fan Fest area throughout the duration of the baseball tournament, which is May 23-28.
Hoover City Administator Allan Rice said the goal is to to make the SEC Baseball Tournament a first-class experience for fans. “We believe this is going to rival what you experience when you go to Atlanta for the SEC Football Championship,” Rice said.
The city of Hoover will sell alcoholic beverages in the Finley Center, but people won’t be allowed to carry them outside the center, according to the contract between the city and the Alabama Sports Council, which is putting on the baseball tournament for the SEC.
The current agreement calls for the SEC to stage the tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium through 2019, with the option to extend its stay through 2021.
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