The Missouri Valley Conference can count on Wichita State. When nobody else wants the baseball tournament, WSU does.
Pending approval by the presidents council, the 2015 conference tournament returns to Eck Stadium for the first time since 2010. No other schools bid on the tournament, representatives from the schools with suitable facilities confirmed this week through e-mails. Schools that recently hosted likely declined to bid with the reasoning that it was WSU’s turn in the rotation.
WSU athletic director Eric Sexton confirmed that WSU bid on next season’s tournament. The conference officially announces its championship sites for the following school year in mid-May, after a group of representatives of the member schools recommend the sites. The presidents council must approve the sites.
“You’ve still got to go through the process,” Sexton said. “But if there’s no other bids.…”
This season’s tournament is at Indiana State, continuing a trend of awarding schools that upgrade facilities. The Sycamores last hosted in 1982, when the regular-season champion earned the right. Illinois State hosted the 2013 tournament for the first time. Commissioner Doug Elgin, in past interviews, said several MVC schools want to rotate the baseball tournament, as is the case with most of the conference’s other championships.
Eck Stadium hosted the tournament 25 times since 1978, most recently from 2008-2010. Missouri State, which is prohibited from bidding when the Springfield Cardinals minor-league team will not relinquish dates, became a regular host in 2004 with the construction of Hammons Field. MSU hosted in 2004, 2007 and 2012. Former MVC member Creighton held the 2011 tournament at TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series.
A year ago, Sexton expressed concern that moving the tournament from larger facilities diminished the experience. Eck Stadium and Hammons Field are the MVC’s largest stadiums (Bradley is not interested in hosting) and possess the most features such as on-site locker rooms, chairback seats, hospitality areas and space for TV and other media.
“We need to be sure we listen to the student-athletes and in their surveys, they talk about the experience,” he said last May. “They want a first-class experience and to play in a major type of facility.”