The city of Fayetteville, the Houston Astros and the Big South Conference have announced an agreement to host the 2019-21 Big South Conference baseball tournaments at the new Fayetteville Ballpark.
The under-construction facility will serve as the host venue for the eight-team, double-elimination tournament that will determine the Big South’s automatic bid recipient to the NCAA Tournament for the 2019-21 seasons. The 2019 event will take place May 21-25.
The Big South will have a true neutral site location for its tournament for the third time in the past four years within the league’s footprint of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The nationally-televised tournament will serve as the first major event hosted at the new ballpark, which will be the home facility for the Houston Astros’ Class A Advanced affiliate in the Carolina League. The 4,786-seat park is scheduled to open in April of 2019 and will mark the return of professional baseball to the Fayetteville community after a 19-year absence.
Houston’s current Carolina League club is the Buies Creek Astros, who are based at Campbell’s Jim Perry Stadium. The club will move to Fayetteville for the 2019 season.
“This is a major milestone for the City of Fayetteville and its downtown development,” said Mark Zarthar, President of the Houston Astros’ Fayetteville affiliate. “The Big South is a premier collegiate athletic conference with a rich history in baseball. With institutions spread across Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, many of its athletes hail from the greater Fayetteville area. The tournament will bring players, staff, families and fans to explore the growing number of accommodations, dining and entertainment options that this historic city has to offer.”
The $37.8 million state-of-the-art stadium is expected to be an economic development tool that attracts and retains business, provides national exposure, increases civic and community pride and provides for an improved quality of life for residents. It features natural grass, an LED scoreboard, six luxury suites, four field boxes, a premium club level, outdoor party deck, a kids zone and more.
“We are delighted to find not only a fine location, but a true partner willing and able to help make our baseball championship into an event bigger than just a series of games,” said Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle Kallander. “Between the level of competition demonstrated by our teams and the level of hospitality shown by our hosts, we know the Big South, the city of Fayetteville and the Houston Astros will put on a great show.”
The 2019 Big South Baseball Championship will hold 10 games over its first three days, May 21-23, followed by the semifinal round on May 24 (anywhere from 2-4 games as needed). The tournament will culminate with a “Winner-Take-All” Championship Game on the final day (Saturday, May 25). All games will air on ESPN platforms.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)