Clearwater, Fla. to host first American Athletic Conference championship
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced that the first American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship will be hosted at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. The championship will take place May 21-25, 2014.
Bright House Field, which is regarded as one of the finest minor league playing and practice facilities in the nation, is no stranger to collegiate baseball after hosting seven Big East Championships. The site first hosted the conference tournament in 2006 and was the league’s championship destination for seven of the last eight years.
“We’reexcited to partner with Bright House Field for our first baseball championship,” said Aresco. “Our goal is always to provide the best possible championship experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. This partnership with Bright House Field and the support of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area make that a certainty.”
“The City of Clearwater will look forward to welcoming the players, coaches and fans to Florida’s best beach town and to supporting the American Athletic Conference champion in its pursuit of its first College World Series championship,” said Clearwater mayor George Cretekos.
BrightHouse Field serves as the spring training site for the Philadelphia Phillies, and it has housed the Phillies’ Florida State League affiliate Clearwater Threshers since the facility opened in 2004.
“We are excited to be the host of the newly named American Athletic Conference and it’s 2014 Baseball Championship here at beautiful Bright House Field,” said John Timberlake, Director of Florida Operations for Phillies Florida. “Having been the host of the Big East Baseball Championships for seven out of the last eight years, we want to welcome the new institutions that make up The American as well as the remaining members that have come to enjoy our first class facility here at Bright House Field in addition to the Clearwater community and its pristine beaches.”
The stadium’s seating capacity is 8,500. The outfield dimensions measure 329 feet down the leftfield line, 408 feet to center, and 330 down the rightfield line. The $25 million facility features a 360-degree main concourse, grass berm seating, group picnic areas, a children’s play area and a state-of-the-art video scoreboard. In addition to a major-league quality playing field, the facility also houses the Carpenter Complex – an adjacent four-diamond practice complex, which allows teams to take full-field batting practice while a game is taking place in the stadium.
“For years, baseball players and fans of all ages have flocked to Florida for first-class competition and enjoyable experiences,” said John Webb, President/CEO of the Florida Sports Foundation. “With this new agreement, the State of Florida, St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission and the City of Clearwater welcome the American Athletic Conference Championship for its first year. The players will continue to have an experience to remember competing on the same field as their major league heroes and fans will enjoy the amenities Bright House Field offers spring training baseball fans on an annual basis.“
“The St. Pete/Clearwater Sports Commission is proud of the partnership established with The American," said Kevin Smith, Director of Sports for the commission. "Our entire community has a long list of signature events in the Bright House Clearwater Super Boat National Championship, Honda Grand Prix of St. Pete, Rock n Roll St. Pete Half Marathon and the USF Softball Series. This championship exemplifies that the Road to Omaha starts in the St. Pete/Clearwater Area.”
The top eight teams in the final regular-season standings will qualify for the 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship, which will utilize a pool formatthat comprises 13 games. Each team will play three games in a round-robin format within its pool, and the winners of each pool will meet in the May 25 final.
The baseball-playing members of the American Athletic Conference in 2014 are UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, South Florida and Temple.
Two teams from The American’s 2014 baseball membership reached the 2013 NCAA Championship. UConn won its opening game in the Blacksburg Regional, while Louisville advanced through the Regional and Super Regional rounds on its way to the College World Series.