Pearl Jam: C-USA event wide open

posted on May 23, 2011

The Conference USA baseball tournament has found a new home for the next three years – Trustmark Park in Pearl.

The league’s athletic directors voted Wednesday during their annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla., to move the league’s championship to Pearl for the next three seasons.

USM athletic director Richard Giannini said the campaign to move the tournament to a neutral site started a year ago when the league’s coaches first suggested the idea.

Spectrum Events, which is a subsidiary of Jackson-based real estate developer Spectrum Capital, won over the league’s officials and will pay $100,000 to C-USA per year in Pearl.

“I really think it’s great for the state of Mississippi and Jackson,” Giannini said. “It benefits more than just Southern Miss. It benefits UAB, Memphis and Tulane. Not necessarily from a competition standpoint, but from the fact that it’s close and we can get more fans.”

The vote still has to be approved by the league’s presidents in June, but that should be just a formality and Giannini didn’t anticipate any problems. He said Pearl’s centralized location, Jackson-Evers International Airport and several nearby hotels and restaurants, which are more affordable than New Orleans and Memphis, factored in the decision.

Giannini credited Spectrum president Jason Voyles and vice president Stephen King as playing major roles in bringing the tournament to Pearl.

“Over the past four years, the highest tournament attendance of actual tickets sold reached 46,000 when hosted at Tulane,” King said. “We’ll work to exceed this and grow championship totals never before experienced by the event. This market reveres baseball, and this is a perfect opportunity for fans to come out for love of the game and to show support for the C-USA schools.”

USM baseball coach Scott Berry realizes the opportunity of essentially serving as the host team for three straight years can be beneficial to his program.

“I think it’s huge,” Berry said. “It’s now our job to make the conference tournament (which now accepts only six teams.) It’s neutral, but it is in our favor because of our fan base in Jackson and the surrounding area. There are several programs that are within driving distances like Tulane, UAB and Memphis. It benefits everybody.

“Most importantly, it’s huge for us and Southern Miss and the baseball fans of Mississippi.”

This year’s C-USA Tournament will be played at the University of Houston starting on Wednesday and concluding next Saturday.


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