Hank Aaron Sports Academy selected as host venue for Hope Credit Union GCAC Baseball Championship

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Hank Aaron Sports Academy

The 5,200-seat venue in Jackson, Mississippi, will hold the conference championship for the next three years beginning in 2023

JACKSON, Miss. – Today, Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes announced that baseball is returning to the league as a sponsored sport, and along with that news was revealing that the Hank Aaron Sports Academy (HASA) will serve as the host site for the 2023 Hope Credit Union (HOPE) GCAC Baseball Championship.

Formerly known as Smith-Wills Stadium and former home of the N.Y. Mets and Houston Astros MLB / MiLB teams, the 5,200-seat venue located in Jackson, Mississippi, will host the league’s showcase baseball event for the next three seasons beginning in 2023, with an option to extend the stay at the famed venue for another two seasons after that.

“Baseball is a premier sport in our region, and for years we’ve had teams in our league that have qualified for the HBCU World Series without having a chance to win a conference title until today,” Barnes said. “Thanks to the Hank Aaron Sports Academy and Hope Credit Union, our student-athletes will have a chance to showcase their talents and the best of Black college baseball in a historic venue.”

Originally opening in 1975, the stadium has hosted professional baseball as well as musical concerts. With the addition of FieldTurf, the venue was converted into a true multipurpose facility, able to host a variety of sports and events including football and soccer.

“This is yet another great opportunity for the city of Jackson, MS., as well as for all of the student-athletes in the GCAC, we have been very fortunate to be selected as the host and we are looking forward to a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with the GCAC,” said Tim Bennett, HASA President and CEO. “The financial impact of this tournament will certainly be appreciated here in the capital city as we continue to grow and improve with the assistance of Commissioner Kiki Baker Barnes and the GCAC.

HASA is designed to host youths from economically-disadvantaged areas of Mississippi and the southeastern region of the United States. The academy is the home of Jackson Public High School baseball, the Atlanta Braves RBI program, and a number of other youth initiatives (summer/fall youth leagues) as part of the mission of Henry “Hank” Aaron.
“The economic, social and cultural contributions of HBCUs and their graduates cannot be overstated,” said HOPE CEO Bill Bynum. “We are particularly proud to partner with GCAC and the Hank Aaron Sports Academy to build on this legacy.”
HOPE is the Official Financial Institution of the GCAC, and title sponsor of the league’s basketball and baseball tournaments. HOPE also collaborates with GCAC member schools to advance economic opportunity for students, staff, faculty, alumni and to improve conditions on and around their campuses.

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