Charleston to keep state prep baseball tournament

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
St. Albans’ Travis Atkins slides into home ahead of the tag by Washington catcher Cameron Pine during the Red Dragons’ 16-6 win over the Patriots in the Class AAA state baseball tournament semifinals at Appalachian Power Park.

The state prep baseball tournament won’t be going anywhere — at least for the near future.

Charleston and Appalachian Power Park won the bid for that state tournament at the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s Board of Directors meeting Wednesday night in Parkersburg. Charleston and Beckley, which would have held the tournament at Linda K. Epling Stadium, were the two cities to bid on the event.

SSAC Commissioner Bernie Dolan said Wednesday night that Charleston impressed with an increased emphasis on taking care of the teams both in and out of Power Park. The bid included complementary hotel rooms for teams and umpires, improved hospitality areas, hosts for each team in the tournament and discounts for teams at local restaurants for team dinners.

“One thing that was certainly apparent was that the Charleston bid was a total team effort,” Dolan said, “from the city to the [Convention and Visitors Bureau] to Power Park. Each of them took care of their part of the puzzle that they work on.

“For us, we certainly think Power Park is a great baseball park and a great experience,” Dolan added.

Herbert Hoover High will be the host school for the duration of the contract.

The SSAC had sent letters earlier this summer to five cities it deemed capable of hosting the state baseball tournament — Charleston, Beckley, Morgantown, Princeton and Bluefield. Formal bids came from Charleston and Beckley.

Morgantown had considered bidding, with Monongalia County Ballpark as the tournament’s home, but scheduling conflicts with West Virginia University baseball and the short-season Class A West Virginia Black Bears kept Morgantown on the sideline.

This was the first time the state baseball tournament site had been put out for bid. It has spent much of its history in West Virginia’s capital city. The tournament has been at Appalachian Power Park — home of the Class A West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League — since the stadium opened in 2005. Before that, its longtime home was Watt Powell Park.

The Power Park site has been helpful for Kanawha Valley baseball fans wishing to watch local teams play for state baseball titles. Since 2005, there have been six years where at least two Valley teams played in a state championship game. There were three in 2017, with Charleston Catholic beating Ravenswood for the Class A crown and St. Albans beating Hurricane for the Class AAA crown.

Power Park also had the advantage in stadium size. It seats 4,500 compared to Epling Stadium’s 2,500. Epling is the home of the West Virginia Miners of the Prospect League.

“We were impressed with Beckley and were glad that they bid,” Dolan said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for their community to get together. It’s the first time outside of soccer that Beckley had bid on something, and we think it’s a great experience for the community.”

With that four-year contract, either side will be able to exit the agreement after three years. The 2018 tournament dates are May 31 through June 2.

Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or derek.redd@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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