APPLETON, Wis. — The NCAA Division III Baseball Championship is staying put.
The NCAA announced Wednesday afternoon on NCAA.com that the 2015 through 2018 Division III Baseball Championship would return to Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Lawrence University and UW-Oshkosh will serve as co-hosts for the event.
Lawrence is already slated to host the 2014 Division III Baseball Championship from May 23-27. The Division III Baseball Championship has been played at Fox Cities Stadium every year since 2000, and Appleton is the longest-serving host site in the history of the championship. When this current run ends in 2018, Appleton will have hosted the championship for 19 consecutive years.
“We are excited to continue to be a co-host for the Division III Baseball Championship,” said Lawrence Director of Athletics Mike Szkodzinski. “With the help of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau and UW-Oshkosh, we plan to continue to put on a great event for the scholar-athletes and the Appleton community.”
Appleton beat out Cleveland, Ohio, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which were the other finalists for 2015-18. Case Western Reserve University was attempting to bring the Division III Baseball Championship to Classic Park, and the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference planned to host at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“Hosting this prestigious championship is an honor for our community, and I am excited to see this Memorial Day weekend tradition carry on,” said Matt Ten Haken, Sports Sales Manager for the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The Fox Cities has the reputation as a baseball hotbed and that will continue on as Fox Cities Stadium will now host the WIAA State Spring and NCAA Division III Baseball Championships for the long-term future. Hundreds of college and high school teams will start their season every spring with aspirations to come to Appleton, Wisconsin.”
The NCAA Division III Baseball Championship has been played at five sites since its inception in 1976. Don Schaly Stadium in Marietta, Ohio hosted the event from 1976 through 1987. The event then moved to Bristol, Conn., for two years before going to Battle Creek, Mich., from 1990 through 1994. Salem, Va., then hosted from 1995 through 1999.
The Division III Baseball Championship has received tremendous support since moving to Appleton in 2000. The single-game attendance record of 3,868 fans was set in 2003, and the overall championship attendance record of 29,543 was set that year. The 2013 championship drew 28,202 fans, the second-highest total in the 14 years it has been at Fox Cities Stadium.
“A terrific partnership between Lawrence University, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, and hundreds of local volunteers has made this event renown throughout the country,” said Ten Haken, who serves as chairman of the championship’s local organizing committee. “As I talk with my colleagues from coast to coast, they know that the Fox Cities is synonymous with Division III baseball. This is a highly coveted event, as shown by the number of applications the NCAA received to host it, but our community has done such a great job, making it a unique, first-class event that itâ€™s hard to imagine it ever leaving here.”
The eight-team, double-elimination tournament begins the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and runs five days with Tuesday serving as the date for the championship game. Linfield College won its first NCAA Division III Baseball Championship in 2013 with a 4-1 victory over the University of Southern Maine in the title game.