Hoover Metropolitan Stadium

From BR Bullpen

BUILT: 1988

CAPACITY: 10,500 seats (stadium website); has reported more than 16,200 for baseball (Media coverage)

Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, AL, was the home of Birmingham affiliated baseball from 1988 through 2012. After that, the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League left what was then called Regions Park for a new stadium in downtown Birmingham.

"The Hoover Met" is better known as the all-but permanent home of the collegiate Southeastern Conference baseball tournament - every year but one since 1996. There was a close call as a contract was expiring in 2016: New Orleans, LA, Nashville, TN, Jacksonville, FL, and Memphis, TN, all also bid - but then the city announced a plan to build the Hoover Metropolitan Complex around the Met. SEC athletics directors then voted unanimously - reportedly at the equally unanimous urgings of their baseball coaches - to keep the tourney there. The resulting contract was through 2021 but was extended a year because the Coronavirus pandemic killed the 2020 tournament. After the 2022 tourney, media quoted both the SEC and Hoover's city administrator as saying they had agreed "in principle" to leave it there for at least another two seasons. The city confirms a formal agreement to that effect was inked later. The 2023 tournament is May 23-28.

Also in 2022, The Met hosted the World Games Softball competition in which Team USA took the gold medal.

The Met - some 20 miles south of the Magic City - opened in 1988. Thanks to Chicago White Sox non-prospect Michael Jordan, it drew 467,868 in 1994 - still the most ever among current SL cities, although the 1980 Nashville Sounds drew its all-time record 575,676 five years before leaving the circuit. Regions Bank bought naming rights in 2007, carrying them over to the new downtown Birmingham playpen with Regions Field and leaving the Hoover facility to resume the Hoover Met name.