Feb. 11, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. – For the first time in history, four Florida universities will meet at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to compete in “The Florida Four” on March 2, 2010.
For this inaugural event, the University of South Florida (USF) and University of Miami (UM) will go head-to-head at 4:00 p.m., while the University of Florida (UF) and Florida State University (FSU) will face each other at 7:00 p.m. The game between the Seminoles and Gators marks the first of four meetings between these intra-state rivals in 2010.
“We’ve been working with the Yankees for a few years now to bring another premier event to our community,” said Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission Rob Higgins. “We hope it serves as launching pad to Omaha for the four programs. This is a story that will start in March and we hope continues on to June.”
“On behalf of the World Champion New York Yankees, it is with great pleasure and pride that we welcome The Florida Four Baseball Classic to George M. Steinbrenner Field. As a past collegiate coach, it is George Steinbrenner’s dream to create this event for Tampa”, said Felix Lopez, Senior Vice President of the New York Yankees. “We welcome the great schools of Florida to our facility and look forward to continuing this event for years to come.”
Since the Atlantic Coast Conference’s inception of divisional play in 2006, the Seminoles have captured three Atlantic Division crowns, including three straight from 2007 to 2009. FSU will open the 2010 campaign ranked as a consensus top 10 in five preseason polls, including a high of No. 5 by ESPN/USA Today. The Seminoles return seven position starters and eight pitchers who saw playing time in 2009 including all three arms from last year’s weekend rotation.
“This is a great plus for the Florida State baseball program to be involved with the New York Yankees in this capacity and certainly to play the University of Florida down in Tampa will create a lot of interest,” said FSU Head Baseball Coach Mike Martin. “I’m sure that the Seminole fans in the Tampa Bay area will be excited to see their Seminoles, and I’m sure the same will be true with the Gators. We could very well draw a capacity crowd because of the interest in baseball in this great state of Florida.”
When Kevin O’Sullivan took over the University of Florida baseball program prior to the 2007-2008 school year, the Gators were in the midst of consecutive non-winning seasons for the first time in more than 30 years. O’Sullivan and his staff, consisting of Craig Bell, Brad Weitzel and Don Norris, directed the Gators to a runner-up finish in the South Eastern Conference’s Eastern Division and the team’s first NCAA Regional appearance since 2005 with a 34-24 performance in his inaugural season. Last year, O’Sullivan led the Gators to a berth in the Super Regionals.
“We are looking forward to participating in the Florida Four Tournament against top-notch competition. It should be a great opportunity for our fans to see two quality games in a professional stadium and the players will be excited to be part of a tremendous environment,” said UF Head Baseball Coach Kevin O’ Sullivan. “It should be a great night of baseball that showcases the state of Florida.”
Individual tickets are now on sale at the Steinbrenner Field Box Office or at www.Ticketmaster.com. For more information call the Steinbrenner Field Box Office at (813) 875-7753. Fans can also purchase tickets at Seminoles.com by clicking on the following link: Buy Tickets Here!
USF and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission contributed to this article