The Treasure Valley’s 4A high school baseball teams have hosted every state tournament since the classification started in 2001 — until now.
This year’s tournament moves to Skip Walker Field in Twin Falls starting Thursday, ending the home-field advantage the 4A SIC held and marking a turning point for the 4A classification.
Because the Idaho High School Activities Association does not sponsor state baseball tournaments, Idaho’s 4A athletic directors vote on where to place the tournament each year.
The tournament previously rotated between Bishop Kelly and Nampa’s Rodeo Park. But Nampa moved to 5A last season, creating a void Twin Falls has filled.
The tournament will return to Bishop Kelly in 2017 before heading to Idaho Falls’ Melaleuca Field in 2018.
“Boise is great. We love Boise,” said Mike Federico, Twin Falls athletic director and 4A state tournament manager. “I do think it’s important though to communities to have the opportunity to host state. It’s one thing not to have a qualified manager or not to have a qualified facility, but it’s another thing to not even have the opportunity.”
Federico points to Twin Falls’ qualifications. It has hosted state and regional legion tournaments at the College of Southern Idaho, and it even hosted the 2010 4A state championship game when snow forced Bishop Kelly and Bonneville (Idaho Falls) to postpone the final.
But he also knows he has to turn a profit. Because the tournament isn’t run by the IHSAA, he must pay all of the expenses, ranging from umpires to ticket takers to custodians to even trophies, and still have money left over to defray out-of-town teams’ travel costs.
“It’s a learning year for all of us,” Federico said. “I don’t think this is just a Twin Falls thing. This is something for our whole state seeing if it’s feasible to model this program and make it work somewhere else beside Boise.”
Rocky Mountain Athletic Director Troy Rice, the 5A tournament manager, said 5A state is run solely by the Southern Idaho Conference and has no plans to move.
The IHSAA sanctions baseball as a sport, but IHSAA Executive Director Ty Jones said his organization doesn’t sponsor the state tournaments because no one has asked it to. Coaches and schools have run the tournaments since at least the 1970s, and Jones said they prefer to keep it that way.
The baseball tournaments are free to create their own rules for who qualifies for state. But they follow the models the IHSAA sets for softball.
“It’s really not run that different from how we would set it up,” Jones said. “Look at baseball for the 5As. It’s up here in Boise and Troy Rice runs it. It’s very possible if we were sponsoring the state baseball tournament and the 5As were at Boise, that Troy Rice would run it. The only difference is what we would pay for and what the schools and teams would pay for.”
Add in possible Title IX complications, and the IHSAA is in no hurry to jump in.
“You have people ask once in awhile, but there has never been a push that I’m aware of — a serious push — to sponsor state baseball for those two reasons.”
4A state tournament hosts
The 4A state tournament has rotated between Bishop Kelly High and Nampa’s Rodeo Park, with a few exceptions, since the classification started in 2001.
College of Southern Idaho
Bishop Kelly High
Rodeo Park (Nampa)
College of Idaho (Caldwell)
Bishop Kelly, Borah