BY DAVID MCCOLLUM
LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER
With a partnership with Conway High School, the University of Central Arkansas will host the seven state high school baseball championship games May 20-21.
The "Weekend of Champions," which features state title games in all classifications (three Friday, four Saturday) have been held at the University of Arkansas’ Baum Stadium since its inception a few years ago. The date for the games this year conflicts with a weekend series at Baum involving the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Arkansas Naturals’ baseball stadium in nearby Springdale is also occupied that weekend with a series between the Naturals and the Arkansas Travelers.
Arkansas Activities Association officials then approached administrators at Dickey-Stephens Park (home of the Travelers) as a possible host. The Dickey-Stephens officials were not interested in hosting seven games over a weekend.
When the AAA’s board of directors met last month to set state and regional tournament sites, there was no bid for the championship weekend. Steve Daniels, Conway’s athletic director, and Noel Boucher, baseball coach, later submitted a bid to host the tournament and use UCA’s Bear Stadium as the site of the games. Bear Stadium has recently undergone renovations to the spectator area and has an new artificial surface field, including an infield and pitcher’s mound in which the artificial surface resembles dirt pitching mounts and basepaths.
The AAA awarded the tournament to Conway and its officials are already working on the logistics with the partnershp with UCA.
"We met last week to kind of outline who will be in charge of what," Daniels said. "We are all going to do our best to make this a great experience for the kids."
"It’s a great opportunity for our us to bring a lot of people to our campus and show them the kind of facilities we have," said Brad Teague, UCA athletic director. "To bring this type of event here is not only big to our program and university but to Conway and central Arkansas. We’re excited about the partnershp with Conway High School that will make this a special event. We’ll have a lot of parents, families, athletes and fans on our campus over a couple of days."
The early rounds of the seven state tournaments will be held at various sites around the state with the 14 finalists qualifying the week before for the championship games at Conway. A few of the title games have attracted between 1,500 to 2,000 spectators.
Bear Stadium has a seating capacity of 1,000.
"But we’ve made the area along the right-field foul line a family area that can accomodate several spectators and there’s standing room outside of both foul lines," Teague said. "We can also bring in some temporary bleachers if we need them. We’ll do what we need to do to take care of the people."