POSTED: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 10:26pm
BIRMINGHAM, Al — The Southwestern Athletic Conference has selected the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy at Wesley Barrow Stadium as the site for its upcoming 2014 SWAC Baseball Tournament.
The venue, located in Pontchartrain Park in New Orleans, La., is a replacement site after the league decided to move the tournament from LaGrave Field as a result of student-athlete safety concerns. LaGrave Field was host to last year's SWAC postseason tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.
“We would like to apologize to the fans, families, coaches and administrators for the delay and inconvenience the decision of switching venues may present," said SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp. “The health and welfare of the student-athletes will always be our primary concern.”
The tournament will follow its original schedule at the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy and will be held from May 14-18. The championship game on the final day is slated for broadcast on ESPNU.
“We would like to thank the New Orleans Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy for hosting the SWAC Baseball Tournament," Commissioner Sharp added. "We believe the venue will give our fans and student-athletes a great experience. The MLB Urban Youth Academy is a state-of-the-art facility and the SWAC has been tied in with the Urban Youth Academies for several years through MLB's Urban Invitational."
At least one team from the SWAC has been featured in all seven editions of the MLB Urban Invitational, which the annual round-robin collegiate baseball tournament designed by Major League Baseball to place a spotlight on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and their baseball programs. The 2014 Urban Invitational featured two schools from the conference (Grambling State and Southern) with the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy serving as one of four sites during the round robin play.
“We are looking forward to hosting the SWAC Tournament, especially as it will give the young Academy participants the experience of witnessing collegiate baseball played at a high level of competition and serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for their future,” said Ben Baroody, Senior Director, Baseball Development, Major League Baseball. “This is a terrific opportunity to not only showcase our facility, but extend our relationship with SWAC, which has been an integral part of our annual Urban Invitational tournaments.”
ABOUT THE NEW ORLEANS MLB URBAN YOUTH ACADEMY
The New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy at Wesley Barrow Stadium opened in 2012 replacing a 55-year-old facility that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The new facility has capacity for 650 fans, with a 200-square-foot climate-controlled press box, a public address system and new LED scoreboard. It also features administration facilities, including two 300-square-foot conference rooms. The baseball field also features professional-sized artificial turf with a clay pitcher's mound. Other components include a three-lane batting practice cage outdoors and a two-lane indoor batting practice building. The facility operates in partnership with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission on a dynamic youth program that provides free, year -round baseball and softball instruction as well as educational and baseball vocation programming for young people from underserved and urban communities throughout southern Louisiana
ABOUT THE SWAC
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), established in 1920, is a college athletic conference headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., which is comprised of historically black universities in the Southern United States. It participates in the NCAA's Division I for all sports and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).