'We would definitely like it at 100%': Mississippi State, Ole Miss baseball coaches on NCAA Tournament capacity
Make no mistake about it.
Mississippi State baseball coach Chris Lemonis would love to see as many people as possible in the stands at Dudy Noble Field when it plays host to an NCAA Regional during the first weekend in June.
He also understands why that won't happen.
The NCAA is capping outdoor spring championships at 50% of a stadium's capacity in correspondence with the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group. That includes 50% at TD Ameritrade Park during the College World Series, too.
"We would definitely like it at 100%," Lemonis said. "We're just in different times right now. I think a lot of it is because you get to go to a regional at Mississippi State and it could be 100%, and if you go to a regional at South Bend, Indiana, and they're at 30% or something then you're looking for a fairness piece."
Dudy Noble Field was announced as one of 20 possible host sites for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. So were Ole Miss' Swayze Field and Southern Miss' Pete Taylor Park.
Instead of announcing them after conference tournament week based on which teams earned seeds No. 1-16, the NCAA wanted to prospective sites to be prepared for uniform COVID-19 precautions and regulations.
There haven't been too many of those at Dudy Noble Field, a stadium with a capacity of "15,000+" according to Mississippi State's media guide, recently. There were over 10,000 fans in attendance at all three of Mississippi State's games against Ole Miss last month, including a season-high 13,338 in Game 2 of that series.
There were no fewer than 8,800 people at any of Mississippi State's three regional games at Dudy Noble Field in 2019, with a high of 11,511 in MSU's win over Central Michigan. There were 13,132 and 11,597 fans at MSU's Super Regional victories over Stanford the following weekend.
"I'd like to be able to let as many fans as we can safely into our park to enjoy the experience, and that goes for our opponents' fans and everybody else too," Lemonis said.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco shared a similar sentiment.
"I know one thing for sure: We'll have as many in here as we can," he said. "We won't have trouble selling the tickets. The fans will be in here and be great and at 50, we'll still be as high as anybody in the country as far as attendance. It'll still be a great atmosphere. Not as great, but still great."