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Historic NCAA Regional a Success at U. S. Steel Yard
GARY, Ind. — History was made this past weekend as U. S. Steel Yard hosted it's first-ever NCAA Regional. Host school Purdue University was joined by Kentucky, Kent State and Valparaiso in the double-elimination tournament. Kent State defeated Kentucky 3-2 in the final to win the Regional and advance to the national round of 16, also known as the Super Regionals.
The Regional featured national television coverage by Big Ten Network, who televised all three of Purdue’s games. The first game of the Regional last Friday between Kentucky and Kent State lasted 21 innings, the second-longest game in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
Over 12,000 fans came in to watch the six games of the tournament, spread out over three days.
“It was very special to have this event at our ballpark and baseball fans from Northwest Indiana really embraced it to make it a huge success,” RailCats Owner Pat Salvi said. “Seeing beautiful U. S. Steel Yard in the spotlight and seeing the RailCats organization featured on national television is something that the City of Gary and citizens of the Region should be very proud of.”
Tom Schott, Purdue’s Associate Athletic Director, worked closely with the RailCats staff to organize the tournament and was very satisfied with the experience.
“The RailCats staff, from Mr. and Mrs. Salvi down through [RailCats President/GM] Kevin Spudic and the front office helped out a lot,” Schott said. “They were a tremendous host and it was a fun partnership for us. We couldn’t have been more pleased.”
“The ballpark and field were in pristine condition and the fan experience was great. For the tournament to be put together on short notice and to have it be that successful was great. We heard nothing but positive feedback from the schools, media and fans.”
The RailCats were founded in 2002 and are in their tenth season at U. S. Steel Yard. They are a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, and play 50 home games each season at the $45 million ballpark, which is one of the premier minor league baseball venues in the country. The club has drawn more than 1.4 million fans since the ballpark opened in 2003.