Participating baseball teams that are searching for hotel rooms for the NCAA Division I tournament’s regional at the University of Kentucky in Lexington this weekend are striking out, leaving teams to choose between hotels an hour away or on-campus dorms.
On Sunday, Kentucky was selected as one of the regional sites in the NCAA baseball playoffs, but the games will occur in Lexington on the same weekend as the Railbird Music Festival, a massive event that will be headlined by country music stars Tyler Childers and Zach Bryan, and the state high school playoffs for softball, baseball and track and field.
There is also the Great American Brass Band Festival in nearby Danville, which draws more than 40,000 people each year.
As a result, there is limited availability with hotel rooms within 30 miles of the campus this weekend, which could create challenges for fans who want to attend regional baseball.
West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Ball State will all participate in the regional, which begins Friday. Officials from Indiana and Ball State told ESPN their teams would stay in the dorms rather than choose hotels an hour away in Louisville. Kentucky’s baseball team will also use the dorms.
Per Kentucky officials, however, the “dorms” that the teams will utilize are actually closer to apartment-like suites that rival any hotel accommodations the teams might have had if rooms had been available.
“There is a great deal of stuff going on in Lexington: massive music festival, state high school baseball, softball and track on campus (baseball was shifted to an alternative off-campus site, as has been the university president’s mandate to host those high school events in recent years,” said Matt May, spokesperson for Kentucky baseball. “This has been known for months and all checkpoints with the NCAA both addressed and met to their satisfaction. Our bid was up front from the very beginning.”
Each potential host site has to submit a bid to host a regional. The bid, submitted to the NCAA, must detail the number of available hotel rooms in the area.
In a statement, the NCAA said it was satisfied with Kentucky’s logistical challenges and accepted the bid because of the alternative accommodations that were available.
“Since Kentucky could not secure the minimum number of hotel rooms within the specified distance of no more than 30 miles from the host venue, the school informed the committee it had secured three different on-campus residence buildings within proximity to the baseball stadium where the teams could be housed,” the NCAA statement said. “While the locations are residence halls, it was the understanding of the committee that the accommodations are an apartment-style residence facility. Kentucky also stated to the committee that each building will be staffed 24 hours a day by university personnel to provide any services needed .
“Additionally, Kentucky secured hotel rooms at three separate sites in Louisville, which is approximately 65 miles away. If teams prefer, they will have the option to stay at one of the hotels in Louisville. After thoroughly discussing the arrangements with Kentucky’s athletics administration, the committee voted to accept the university’s bid as a top-16 seeded regional host.”