Jan. 2, 2008
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The BIG EAST Conference has announced that Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Fla., has been chosen as the site of the 2008 and 2009 BIG EAST Conference Baseball Championships.
It's a familiar site for BIG EAST fans, as Bright House Networks Field previously hosted the 2006 BIG EAST Championship.
"We're thrilled about the opportunity to return to Clearwater and Bright House Networks Field," said BIG EAST Commissioner Michael Tranghese. "It gives our student-athletes a chance to play in a first-class facility and it provides a wonderful atmosphere for our fans."
Regarded as one of the top minor league playing facilities in the nation, Bright House Networks 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.
"This facility really has everything we look for when we evaluate possible championship sites," said BIG EAST Associate Commissioner for Olympic Sports Jim Siedliski. "Its location is ideal from a weather standpoint and it has all of the amenities and details that will allow us to run a top-of-the-line event."
"The Phillies organization is extremely excited to host the BIG EAST Championships again here at Bright House Networks Field for 2008 and 2009," said John Timberlake, the Phillies' Director of Florida Operations. "We had a wonderful experience working with the BIG EAST Conference in 2006 and we really look forward to hosting another first-class championship with the fine institutions that represent the BIG EAST."
The stadium's seating capacity is 8,500, which includes 7,000 fixed seats. 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.
The Phillies will work with the area's convention and visitors bureau, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, to promote the beautiful destination of Clearwater and the rest of Pinellas County.
"When you combine a top-notch sporting event like the BIG EAST Championships with a world-class destination like St. Pete/Clearwater, the result is sure to wow everyone who attends," said Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Director of Sports Kevin Smith. "And the fact that we were selected as the host destination for the next two years is a real honor," he added.
The 2008 BIG EAST Conference Baseball Championship will be played May 20-24, with the top eight teams in the regular season standings qualifying. The 2009 conference tournament will take place May 19-23. The winner of the BIG EAST Championship receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
The championship game of the 2008 BIG EAST tournament is scheduled to be televised on ESPNU on May 24. Fans may also visit www.BIGEASTBaseball.com to access the latest information about the championship, including ticket information, tournament brackets and a complete history of the event.