SEC baseball tournament staying put through 2016

HOOVER, Ala. — The Southeastern Conference baseball tournament is staying in Hoover for at least five more years after the league opened up the bidding process to other cities.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced an agreement Thursday with the Alabama Sports Foundation and the city of Hoover to keep the tournament at Regions Park through 2016.

The league received bids for hosting the five-day, double-elimination tournament from New Orleans, Montgomery, Ala., Memphis, Duluth, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fla., said SEC assistant commissioner Craig Mattox, the tournament’s executive director.

He said location and the adjacent RV park were big selling points.

“All cities that bid submitted very competitive bids,” Mattox said. “It was a tough decision for the SEC, but really what put Hoover over the top, they offer somewhat of a better convenience package for our teams, coaches, players, fans. And the RV park is very, very nice. The fans like that a lot. It sells out pretty quick every tournament.”

It has been held in Hoover since 1998, but the previous deal expired after the 2011 tournament, which runs from May 25-29. League members LSU and South Carolina have won the past two national titles.

The SEC said the event drew tournament records of more than 126,000 fans and 10,000 per game last year. The top 15 crowds in tournament history have come at Regions Park.

“SEC baseball supporters have had a major impact on the success of this event, and we look forward to continuing to provide them with a great environment and experience,” Slive said.

Hoover has made nearly $6 million in stadium renovations over the last five years, including the installation of a high definition videoboard.

Finding a hotel room could be an issue for some visiting fans in the wake of the April 27 tornado that hit the state, including the Birmingham area.

“We did have a lot of rooms secured and blocked prior to the tornadoes so the teams and most of their fans should be able to be accommodated,” said Gene Hallman, executive director of the Alabama Sports Foundation.

The Associated Press