By Lawrence Specker | firstname.lastname@example.org
[Story written and published by AL.com, originally posted 7/8/2020]
Operators of Mobile’s Hank Aaron Stadium announced a deal Wednesday to host four years of the Southern States Athletic Conference’s baseball championships starting in 2021.
Schools in the conference include the University of Mobile, Faulkner University in Montgomery, Stillman College in Tuscaloosa and Loyola University in New Orleans. Six other member schools are based in Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. Ari Rosenbaum, a partner in Mobile Sports and Entertainment Group (MSEG), said the SSAC’s baseball championships had been held in Montgomery in recent years.
Since the departure of the Mobile BayBears, the MSEG has worked to book sports and entertainment events at Hank Aaron Stadium. Rosenbaum said the COVID-19 epidemic had caused the cancellation or postponement of a number of baseball-related events at The Hank during the spring, but clinics and other events were beginning to take place again.
Mobile City Councilman John Williams, a staunch supporter of baseball and the stadium, said the championships were proof that Rosenbaum and his partners were keeping promises.
“One thing that must happen is, we have to play baseball in Mobile, Alabama, and we must play baseball in Hank Aaron Stadium,” said Williams, praising MSEG and the Mobile Sports Authority. “What we’re experiencing today … we’re going to see a guaranteed continuation of baseball here.”
SSAC Commissioner Mike Hall said Danny Corte, executive director of the Mobile Sports Authority, had been the first one to reach out to him about the possibility of bringing the baseball championship to Mobile. Corte was unable to attend a Wednesday press conference announcing the deal because he was self-quarantining after a potential COVID-19 exposure. However, he provided written remarks in which he thanked Hall and SSAC member schools “for the confidence they’ve shown in our team and we look forward to seeing the teams, alumni, fans, and friends at The Hank in the future.”
“As we consider our championship sites, we are looking for a wow factor,” said Hall. He said SSAC officials found it in Mobile, and had already locked down a sponsor hotel, the Mobile Marriott, and a place for their awards banquet on May 4, 2021, at USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.
Hall said the championships feature eight teams in a double-elimination format.
“We want Hank Aaron Stadium to be a landmark again in this great city,” said Rosenbaum, citing a new outfield wall as an example of ongoing improvements. “We want to attract events such as this one and doing those things is going to help with that. We want to renew this stadium to be a great staple in this community.”