IU will host 2017 Big Ten baseball tournament

Postseason baseball is returning to Bart Kaufman Field this spring.

Indiana announced Thursday that it will host the 2017 Big Ten baseball tournament at the five-year-old facility, marking the first time IU has hosted the league’s annual event. The eight-team tournament will run May 24-28.

“It is a fabulous baseball venue, and with our program’s consistent level of success we have developed a terrific baseball atmosphere here at IU,” athletic director Fred Glass said. “This is a great event for the City of Bloomington, local businesses and Indiana University. We cannot wait to welcome Big Ten baseball fans this May. I know they will love our Hoosier hospitality.”

The tournament had recently rotated between Target Field in Minneapolis and Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park, home of the annual College World Series. This will be the first time since 2008, when Michigan hosted in Ann Arbor, that the tournament will be played at an on-campus facility.

The Big Ten will return the tournament to Omaha from 2018 through 2022.

In recent years, Indiana has gained experience staging postseason baseball at the stadium. Bart Kaufman Field served as a regional host site for the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and 2014, and while it lists a permanent seating capacity of 2,500, temporary bleachers can help boost capacity to more than 4,000. The largest crowd in stadium history was 4,312 for a 2014 Regional game between IU and Stanford.

“We are excited and honored to host the 2017 Big Ten Tournament, which is always one of the best tournaments in the country,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “It acknowledges all the hard work by our staff and the athletic department that have hosted NCAA Regionals and built this beautiful facility. This will be a special opportunity for our devoted fan base to see some of the nation’s top collegiate players in Bloomington for what promises to be a fun week in May.

The conference tournament, which began with a four-team field, has been played annually since 1981. It expanded to six teams in 2000 before adding two more teams to the current format in 2014.

Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State have each won nine tournament titles, while Illinois and Indiana have each won four. Purdue has one tournament crown.

IU claimed tournament wins in 1996, 2009, 2013 and 2014. The Hoosiers begin their season on Feb. 17 against Gonzaga in Surprise, Ariz. IU opens its Bart Kaufman Field schedule with a three-game series against Middle Tennessee beginning on March 10.