It must feel like an eternity to Wichita State baseball fans since Eck Stadium hosted the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
Not quite, but it’s been a long time, by historical standards, and it’s getting longer.
The MVC announced next season’s championship sites on Thursday and baseball will skip WSU for the fourth straight year. Indiana State will host the 2014 tournament after a vote of school officials.
WSU will be the site of the 2013 volleyball tournament Nov. 28-30 at Koch Arena, the only site awarded to the school. It returns to WSU for the first time since 2008.
Eck Stadium hosted the baseball tournament 25 times since 1979 and nine times since 2000. MVC commissioner Doug Elgin expects Eck Stadium to get its next shot soon. Elgin said school officials feel strongly that no campus site should dominate hosting a tournament.
“We understand the disappointment,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be too long. I don’t think there’s a trend in any way to think that Wichita State is shut out of the process.”
Elgin credited WSU’s push to improve facilities and boost MVC baseball with adding competition to host the tournament. Illinois State, this season’s host, and Indiana State, recently upgraded their stadiums.
“That’s exactly what Wichita State wanted,” he said. “Indiana State is being rewarded for their investment.”
Indiana State will host at Warn Field, capacity 2,000. In 2011, TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, the 24,000-seat home of the College World Series, was the tournament site. Last season, Missouri State’s Hammons Field, an 8,000-seat Double-A stadium, hosted in Springfield, Mo. Elgin recognizes the conference is moving in a dramatically different direction to smaller parks — with limited locker, training, hospitality and press box space — at Illinois State and Indiana State. MVC officials and school administrators visited Warn Field to check on its adequacy for television.
“It’s a different experience, no doubt,” he said. “You can create atmosphere in a stadium that’s smaller.”
Men’s basketball will remain in St. Louis, while the women’s tournament is in St. Charles, Mo.
Illinois State will host team tennis, golf and softball. Indoor track is at Northern Iowa and outdoor track goes to Southern Illinois. Drake will hold cross country and the men’s individual tennis championships. SIU will host the women’s tennis individual championships in St. Louis.