As regular readers of this weblog are aware, several cities are vying for the right to host the SEC baseball tournament, and Duluth, Ga., is one of them. Lisa Anders, the marketing communications director for the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions about the bid to bring the conference tourney to the Peach State.
Dawg Sports: For the benefit of those of us who have not yet taken in a game at Coolray Field, tell us what the ballpark has to offer to SEC baseball fans.
Lisa Anders: Coolray Field is incredibly fan-friendly, with great sightlines and not a bad seat in the house. It is a very open facility that is state-of-the-art. It's the newest facility among the potential bids, with great food & beverage and a completely involved and supportive executive and office staff.
Dawg Sports: Several years ago, the SEC championship football game moved from Birmingham to Atlanta. How does this affect the chances of moving the conference baseball tournament from the Birmingham area to the Atlanta area?
Lisa Anders: We feel it is not an issue at all. Atlanta has its own identity as a sports destination, and does a great job with the SEC championship game. Gwinnett has developed its own, separate reputation as a premier venue for other SEC championships (having hosted & will future host women's basketball, gymnastics, etc). Our location is ideal, the community & facilities involved are incredibly supportive and we have a tremendous amount of experience hosting championships at this level.
Dawg Sports: News reports about Duluth's bid have indicated that the league is concerned about adequate hotel space and room for batting practice. What has been done to address those concerns?
Lisa Anders: We have over 2,500 hotel rooms within a 10-minute radius. We have a group of sports-friendly, business class & full-service hotels in the immediate area that will be ideal. As far as batting practice, we have secured two high school stadium fields in the immediate area to use for practice.
Dawg Sports: SEC assistant commissioner Craig Mattox indicated that he was surprised that so many cities were interested in hosting the conference tournament when the league opted for an open-bid site-selection process. Due to the unexpectedly large number of contenders, will the SEC pare the applicants down to two or three finalists before making its ultimate decision? What is the timetable for the SEC to make its choice?
Lisa Anders: As far as we know, the bids will not be pared down to a final few applicants. They have advised us that they will share the bids with their coaches in the next few weeks, and in December, presented to the Athletic Directors for their input. We've been told a final decision will be announced in December.
Dawg Sports: Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. . . . Good luck!
Lisa Anders: Thanks for your support! We would love to host this event..and of course, Georgia would be a HUGE draw!!
I am grateful to Lisa Anders for helping to enlighten us on the prospects for bringing the SEC baseball tournament to our state.