District 11 baseball teams have a greater incentive to making the district championships this year after news of Coca-Cola Park being the site for this year's games was announced last week.
District 11 baseball chairman and Northampton athletic director Mike Schneider said that talks about using the IronPigs facility started two years ago to play PIAA state playoff games at the facility, but the dates didn't work out for that agenda this year.
Instead, District 11 got the benefit of the schedule inconvenience by being able to host all four D11 title games on Wednesday June 2 and Thursday June 3. Two games would be played each day, but Schneider didn't specify when each classification would be playing.
"This is something that all coaches and players in the district will be looking forward to," said Schneider of playing at the Triple-A venue. "Even teams like Tri-Valley, who are pretty far from the Lehigh Valley already, said they would look forward to playing. Everyone is excited about the opportunity."
Playing the games at Coca-Cola Park this year will be a reprieve from Coplay's Sammy Balliet Stadium, which Schneider mentioned, "will still be under consideration for the semi-finals because of their lighting."
With the IronPigs schedule always taking priority, playing the D11 championships at the site in the future isn't a given.
"As of now, it's only for this year," Schneider said of the championship schedule, "but as we've seen with our Lehigh Valley Conference play-days, the kids love playing at the field and seeing their names up on the scoreboard.
"We'll just have to see how the schedule works out in the future."
This year's tournament does feature a different format, with play-in games to be held on Monday, May 24. Quarterfinals will be played on Tuesday, May 25. Semifinals will then be held at a neutral site on Thursday May 27. First and second round games will be hosted by the higher seed.
This format gives teams plenty of time to rest pitchers in between the semifinals and the finals, since last year's tournament saw championship contenders play on back-to-back days following rain-outs.