Yesterday the Pacific Coast League released its official 2016 championship schedule; the 16 member clubs will embark on an attempt to top last season’s league-wide attendance mark of just over 7.2M, the fourth-highest total in PCL history.
The launch of the league’s 114th campaign will take place on April 7, with the first official pitch scheduled to take place at an afternoon matchup between the Round Rock Express and Iowa Cubs at Principal Park in Des Moines. All 16 teams will be in action that day, and last season’s Triple-A National Championship Game winner, the Fresno Grizzlies, will be in Las Vegas as they begin their defense of both the PCL and Triple-A crowns against the 51s at Cashman Field.
The league’s divisional alignment remains unchanged, with two eight-team conferences – American and Pacific – split into two four-team divisions. The 144-game schedule calls for each team to face its conference opponents in 16 games over four series – two home and two away – while facing each club from the opposing conference in just one four-game series during the regular season.
Following the success of Omaha’s mid-season celebration in 2015, the Triple-A All-Star Game will return to a host city in the International League next season, as BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be the site of the 29th annual event on July 13. While featuring Triple-A’s most talented players and future MLB stars, the matchup between the PCL and IL also determines which league’s champion will have the home-team advantage in the National Championship Game in September. For the sixth consecutive year, the Triple-A All-Star Game will be broadcast live on the MLB Network.
The regular season will conclude on Monday, September 5 (Labor Day), with postseason play scheduled to begin on Wednesday, September 7, in the two best-of-five Conference Playoff Series; the best-of-five League Championship Series immediately follows. The newly-crowned PCL champion will then advance to play the International League winner in the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday, September 20. The 2016 one-game, winner-take-all contest will be played at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tennessee, home of the PCL’s Memphis Redbirds. NBC Sports Network will again air the live TV broadcast of the season’s grand finale.
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