College baseball will be on full display this May at CarShield Field thanks to an agreement between the O’Fallon Hoots and the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Association Conference [SLIAC].
The Hoots announced Jan. 2 that the team’s new home will play host to the 2020 SLIAC Tournament in May and again in 2021.
The Hoots reached a two-year agreement last week with the conference to host the tournament with an option to extend it through 2023.
“We are excited to bring this tournament to O’Fallon,” Hoots general manager David Schmoll said. “I think it will [have] a great impact on the area. You will have teams and families across the region that will be looking for hotels and places to eat for that entire week.”
The SLIAC tournament follows a four-team, double-elimination format featuring the conference’s top teams. The winner earns an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament.
The SLIAC tournament has been held at Robert E. Smith Field at Greenville University in Illinois for the past five seasons. However, untimely and excessive bad weather during last year’s tournament, and in recent seasons, prompted the conference to have SLIAC Commissioner Dick Kaiser look into an alternative venue for 2020.
“The move was precipitated by continual problems with the weather at that time of year,” Kaiser said. Last year, more than half the tournament had to be abruptly moved to SIUE’s all-turf baseball field because the outfield at Greenville was unplayable due to excessive rain.
“In discussions with the baseball coaches and administrators within the conference, I was requested to look for an opportunity to move the tournament to an all-turf facility to hopefully create a better situation to get the tournament in without delays.”
Kaiser began looking in the summer of 2019 and explored virtually every all-turf baseball facility within the St. Louis metro area.
After the River City Rascals ceased operations last fall, Kaiser reached out to the St. Charles Convention and Vistors Bureau, which connected him with the O’Fallon Hoots and their front office management.
Within two months, Kaiser and the conference were able to strike a two-year deal with the Hoots and CarShield Field.
“Obviously everything has worked out and we’re delighted,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser believes the tournament moving to CarSheild Field will have several benefits for the conference teams and fans including having a neutral site for games; an all-turf facility that will allow the teams to get games in unless there is a potential downpour or lightning; and having games in a first-class, minor-league facility that will provide the players and fans with a first-class, championship experience.
“We want to make the opportunity to play baseball in the SLIAC Conference Championships a ‘Big Time’ experience,” Kaiser said.
According to Kaiser, the move to CarShield has been well received by SLIAC coaches and players.
According to Schmoll, this is the first time a college tournament of this size and stature has ever been held at CarShield Field.
“Our hope is that this tournament goes well and that we’ll pick up years three and four and continue this for years to come,” Schmoll said. “To land an NCAA Division III Tournament like this is a big deal.”
The 2020 SLIAC Tournament is slated for May 7-9 with first-round games on May 7, followed by three games on May 8, and the championship round on May 9.
SLIAC schools include Webster University, Spalding University, Greenville University, Westminster College, Fontbonne University, Eureka College, Principia College, Blackburn University, Iowa Wesleyan University, and MacMurray College.
More information on the tournament will be available later this year at sliac.org.