Charles L. Cost Field, home of 16th-ranked Pitt baseball, was one of 20 sites named to a shortlist of candidates in the running to host the preliminary stage of this year’s NCAA Baseball Tournament, known commonly as Regional Tournaments, by the Division I Baseball Committee on Friday afternoon.
The Road to Omaha will go through 16 of these 20 potential host sites. ⚾️
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) May 14, 2021
Most candidates listed are perennial national powers like Vanderbilt, Texas and Florida, who are familiar with the process of bidding and hosting. But this year there are several schools attempting to break the status quo. Pitt, Charlotte and Louisiana Tech have never hosted a NCAA Regional Tournament, but all made the shortlist.
“Certainly, this has been a unique season, but the committee is very appreciative of all of the schools that submitted bids to host. We received a number of quality bids from schools around the country that were interested in being a part of this championship, including a few potential first-time hosts,” Jeff Altier, chair of the committee and director of athletics at Stetson, said. “We are extremely excited to bring the Division I Baseball Championship back in 2021 and let the student-athletes, coaches and fans once again experience this terrific event.”
Typically, Regional Tournament sites are not revealed until the day before Memorial Day. But in an unusual year underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee wanted to give ample time for candidates to prepare the necessary facilities.
Each Regional host will be required to create and staff a COVID-19 testing site on location, and this advanced notice allows schools and programs to do so.
And to keep fans safe from the virus, The NCAA mandates that sites cap their attendance at 50% capacity. Each host can choose to go under that number as local circumstances dictate.
Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke said on Monday that should Pitt earn a hosting role, it will expand established regular season capacity to the NCAA-allowed 50%. So far this season, attendance at home games had been limited to 210 spectators, roughly 23% of Cost Field’s listed capacity of 900.
The final 16 hosts will be revealed on May 30 at 8:30 p.m. and the full bracket announcement will follow less than 24 hours after, at noon on May 31 and be broadcast on ESPN 2.
Pitt baseball is in action this weekend for three games vs. NC State beginning Friday night at 6 p.m. Every game of the series will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.