Minor League Baseball's most popular ballpark will take center stage again in 2013 when the Triple-A National Championship heads to Lehigh Valley's Coca-Cola Park.
The IronPigs, the Minors' top team in attendance the last three seasons, were awarded the annual Triple-A showcase, which will be held Sept. 17, 2013, and features a one-game showdown between the International and Pacific Coast League champions. The game will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network for a second straight year as well.
"This truly is a historic day for our franchise, our loyal and enthusiastic fans and the entire Lehigh Valley community," IronPigs general manager Kurt Landes said. "The Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game is Triple-A Baseball's showcase event and we are thrilled to bring it to our fans at Minor League Baseball's showcase ballpark."
Lehigh Valley seems like a logical choice in 2013 -- the IronPigs, Philadelphia's top affiliate, have led the Minors in attendance each of the last three years and are one of only three clubs to draw more than 600,000 fans annually for five straight seasons. The 'Pigs previously hosted the 2010 Triple-A All-Star Game.
"Lehigh Valley hosted one of Triple-A Baseball's crown jewel events in 2010 with the Triple-A All-Star Game, and now with the 2013 Gildan National Championship Game coming to the area, the IronPigs will become the first International League team to have hosted both of Triple-A Baseball's nationally televised games," said International League President Randy Mobley.
Through Aug. 13, 526,881 fans have made their way to the ballpark in Allentown, Pa., as the IronPigs led the International League in total attendance and 9,084 per game despite the ballpark having a seating capacity of 8,089.
This year's Triple-A National Championship will be played in Durham on Sept. 18 -- the Bulls have drawn nearly 401,000 fans this season.
The IL has captured the Triple-A National Championship each of the last three seasons with Columbus beating Omaha in Albuquerque, N.M., last season. The all-time series between the two leagues is tied, 3-3.
The IronPigs said current season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets for next year's event. The team said more details about events surrounding the game will be announced in the near future.