Hoover, Ala. has played host to the SEC Baseball Tournament for nearly two decades, but that tradition may change in 2017 as the Birmingham suburb's five-year contract is set to expire after this season's conference tilt. As reported by The Advocate, the conference has disseminated bidding information to about a dozen cities in the southeast, among them nearby Memphis, New Orleans and Nashville.
Hoover could remain the host site, of course, but the city sports commissions in other southern cities appear keen on bringing college ball to their respective burgs. NOLA and Nashville have already submitted their bids and Memphis, Orlando and Jacksonville are expected to do so by the deadline on close of business Wednesday. The final decision will be announced will be a announced either right before or right after this year's tournament, which will run May 24-29.
New Orleans is of especial interest to Ole Miss fans, not least because of the affinity felt for the Crescent City by many in Oxford. According to The Times-Picayune, the Louisiana Senate voted on Feb. 17 to use funds from the Major Events Incentive Program to go toward a hosting bid campaign.
Even more preferred would be the hour's drive north to AutoZone Park, where the Rebs already play an annual regular season game against Memphis.
Click on this interactive map for driving distances from Oxford and photos.
According to The Tennessean, Nashville Sports Council President and CEO Scott Ramsey is "excited ... because we think it would not only be a great fit for First Tennessee Park and Nashville, but a great opportunity for us at the Sports Council as well." Indeed.
Ramsey's counterpart on the Jacksonville Sports Council, Rick Catlett, also considers the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville "second to none" as a host facility. The 11,000-capacity park hosted the ACC Baseball Tournament from 2005-2008 and it's the home stadium for the Jacksonville Suns, a AA affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
Before Hoover's contract extension in 2011, the SEC polled its member coaches for other hosting locations. As LSU's Paul Manieri told The Advocate:
If they are going to look at other options, I’d love to see it in New Orleans more so than any other city ... I’m sure we’d pack that stadium. Not just for LSU games but for all of the games.
A few people mentioned Memphis and Nashville. I threw out New Orleans. I don’t think anybody was all that excited to pull out of Hoover at that point. They made some facility upgrades. It seems to have more traction this time.