The Western Athletic Conference has awarded the City of Mesa the WAC Baseball Tournament for 2010, 2011 and 2012, WAC Commissioner Karl Benson announced on Thursday. The event will be played at Mesa's Hohokam Stadium, the Chicago Cubs Spring Training home. The City of Mesa, Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau and Phoenix Regional Sports Commission worked in tandem to secure the event which features Hawai'i, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech, Sacramento State, Nevada, New Mexico State and San Jose State.
"WAC baseball has brought national attention to our league and the move to Mesa will allow us to showcase the event in a great city and at a premier facility," Benson said. "I am certain that the City of Mesa and Hohokam Stadium will create a great tournament environment for our fans and student-athletes."
Starting in 2010, the City of Mesa will host the double-elimination tournament with the winner earning the WAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The top six teams from the WAC's regular season standings will advance to the tournament.
"This is a huge step toward creating a special environment for the student-athletes that participate in this event," Nevada head baseball coach Gary Powers said. "This decision, in my opinion, advances our conference in a very positive direction by providing a neutral site and a special event for the teams that participate."
"I think that it's a great idea to have the tournament in Mesa," San Jose State head baseball coach Sam Piraro said. "I'm very pleased that the powers that be have come to an agreement. We think that it's a great venue for many, many reasons. For one, it's a neutral site. Two, it's a great facility. Three, we think economically, it will be good for everybody, and four, I know that particular community will embrace the tournament and make it a first-class event."
The WAC Baseball Tournament is no stranger to the state of Arizona and the City of Mesa. The league's championship has been played in Arizona nine times (1963, 65, 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 76, 78) and the event was held in Mesa in 1971 and 1973.
"College baseball has long had a tradition in Mesa," said Jon Schmieder, President of the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission. "The partnership with the WAC Tournament is another great addition to the history of baseball at Hohokam Park."
Mesa has fast become the third largest metropolitan city in the state of Arizona offering a variety of lifestyle and leisure pursuits that are in high demand by visitors and residents alike. Now boasting 460,000 residents, Mesa's population is greater than such well-known cities as Minneapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Miami. Mesa is unique among cities in the Phoenix area as it is embraced by the Sonoran Desert - a playground for sought-after outdoor recreation and one-of-a-kind attractions. As a sports destination, Mesa shines offering some of the nation's best training facilities for field sports paired with unbeatable year-round weather and award-winning hotels. Mesa has been recognized as one of the country's most desirable destinations for hosting dynamic sporting events and athletic competitions on all levels: amateur, youth, collegiate, and professional.
"It's humbling to see that Mesa, our top-rated sports facilities and complementing tourism products are earning recognition as being among the nation's finest offerings for competitive sports," said Aaron Muth, Sports Tourism & Development Manager who oversees the bureau's sports marketing efforts. "Mesa is a contender and wins like this continue to help Mesa and the Valley be recognized as leaders in sports development. We have a desirable destination and partnerships with the WAC will broaden our fan base."
Hohokam Stadium is best known as the winter home of the Chicago Cubs and is major league baseball's most popular spring training venue. Boasting one of the largest capacities in the Cactus League, more than 203,000 attendees passed through its gates last March. In addition to hosting Cactus League Spring Training, Hohokam Stadium is also the home of the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. Hohokam Stadium and adjacent training facility opened in February 1997. The stadium seats 13,030 and includes one practice field and one practice infield. The stadium was designed by HOK Architects of Kansas City, Mo., designers of Baltimore's Camden Yards, Cleveland's Jacobs Field, and Coors Field in Denver.
"Everyone at Hohokam Stadium is excited to host the WAC Baseball Championship. We look forward to hosting such a highly competitive college baseball tournament at the Chicago Cubs Spring Training home," said Dave Dunne, Hohokam Stadium Manager.
WAC baseball has a strong tradition of national success as the league owns seven national championships, including Fresno State's run to the national title at the 2008 College World Series. The 2008 CWS marked the 22nd time that a team from the WAC has been represented at the event.
"Having Mesa as the site for the WAC Tournament will be great for our players," said Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole. "It will also allow for future plans to be laid, be held at outstanding facilities, and it will be located at a great site for our fans."
Jason Erickson, Director of Media Relations
Western Athletic Conference
Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau