Courtesy Jason Erickson/WAC
DENVER – The Western Athletic Conference has awarded Mesa, Ariz. the WAC Baseball Tournament for the 2014 season, WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd announced on Friday. The event will be played at the Chicago Cubs new Spring Training complex in Mesa which is scheduled to be completed in December, 2013. Visit Mesa, the destination marketing organization for the city, worked to secure the event which will feature the WAC's top six baseball teams in May.
"We are thrilled to have WAC baseball back in the City of Mesa," said WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd. "Our student-athletes will be able to showcase their talents at Major League Baseball's newest spring training stadium. The City of Mesa and the new spring training home of the Chicago Cubs will create a great tournament environment for our fans and student-athletes."
In May of 2014, 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. The WAC's baseball league is comprised of 10 teams, including Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, North Dakota, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State, Seattle U, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley.
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 12 times (1963, 65, 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 76, 78, 2010, 11, 12) and the event was held in Mesa in 1971, 1973, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
"Youth and amateur sports is a vital visitor market for Mesa, given our world-class facilities and the ability of our seasoned hospitality community to service this unique market segment," said Visit Mesa President & CEO Marc Garcia. "WAC Baseball is one of our signature events that has helped solidify Mesa's position as a premier sports event destination."
Mesa, located in Maricopa County, is one of the nation's fastest-growing cities. Mesa is the third-largest city in Arizona and the nation's 38th-largest city. The City provides the advantages of a thriving metropolis while maintaining the feel of a suburban environment. Just 15 miles east of Phoenix, Mesa covers 132 square miles. With dynamic recreational, educational and business environments, Mesa enjoys the best in a variety of amenities including parks within easy walking distance from home, a variety of sports facilities that cater to athletes young and old, highly rated golf courses for every skill level, and a diversity of special events and community festivals.
"The City of Mesa and the WAC Baseball Tournament have a long history dating back to the 1970s and it is exciting that the connection will be back in 2014," Mayor Scott Smith said. "As Mesa begins a new chapter in its baseball history with the opening of the new stadium, we look forward to showcasing our city and the new facility with a premier championship event."
The $99 million new winter home of the Chicago Cubs is major league baseball's newest stat-of-the-art spring training venue. The stadium will feature a 15,000 seat ballpark reminiscent of historic Wrigley Field; a state-of-the-art team clubhouse facility; a cluster of top-notch baseball practice fields; pristine youth soccer fields and a sparkling public lake that will boast an exciting new design. The grass berm, a signature feature of Arizona's spring training ballparks, starts high in right field and slopes down slightly as it makes its way to the left field corner. The dugouts are outlined and so are the bullpens. The wall behind home plate will feature a brick inlay reminding fans of the team's historic Wrigley Field in the Windy City.
"We're happy WAC Baseball will be competing at our new world-class, state of the art facility," said Justin Piper, general manager, Mesa Spring Training Operations. "When we complete our new ballpark and training facility we look forward to hosting many more sporting and recreational events from across the region."
WAC baseball has a strong tradition of national success as the league owns seven national championships. The WAC has been represented at the College World Series 22 times.