The Charlotte Knights hope to stave off International League rivals Durham and Louisville — not on the field, but for the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament. Dan Rajkowski, Knights chief operating officer, told CBJ the Triple-A minor league team intends to bid to host the tournament beginning with the 2020 season.
Representatives from the ACC and the International League confirmed anticipated bids from all three teams. Durham landed a four-year contract to host the tournament in 2015, an agreement extended by one year, through 2019, because the conference relocated the event in 2017 due to a state law preventing anti-discrimination protection for LGBT people. After the state repealed the law, the tournament returned.
The year it left Durham, Louisville was the ACC baseball tournament’s home.
In Durham, it generated close to $10 million for the local economy this year, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. The ACC has its headquarters in Greensboro and five of the 15 member schools are in the Carolinas (four in North Carolina and one in South Carolina).
Twelve of the 15 schools play in the weeklong tournament, with two not qualifying. Syracuse does not have a baseball team.
“We’re interested,” Rajkowski said of potentially hosting the tournament. “You get the right teams, it’s a grand slam.”
Just before BB&T BallPark opened in 2014, the Knights pursued the ACC tournament, but scuttled those plans because of uncertainty about possible conflicts with other outside events and to get better acclimated with the new stadium. The ACC played the baseball tournament in the Charlotte area in 2000 and 2001, when the Knights still played in Fort Mill.
Neither the Knights nor the conference provided a selection date for the next baseball site. Rajkowski was uncertain whether the next baseball site will be selected for a four-year run.
BB&T BallPark, the Knights’ home field in uptown, has steadily increased the number of college games it hosts since opening in 2014. North Carolina and NC State are among the ACC schools that have played regular season games here in recent years.
Charlotte has been a championship site for ACC sports for decades. The city first hosted the men’s basketball tournament in 1968 and will do so next in March 2019.
The NFL stadium uptown became home of the football championship game in 2010, hosting every year since with the exception of 2017. In April, the ACC extended its commitment for the football game through 2030. The ACC Football Championship generated $21 million in visitor spending last year, including hotels, meals and other spending by visiting fans and teams, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.