RussMatt 2020 kicks off with Winter Haven NCAA D-I clash

RussMatt 2020 kicks off with Winter Haven NCAA D-I clash

WINTER HAVEN – Notching its ninth 30-plus win season in its 150-year history, two top NCAA Division I teams, the Boston College Eagles and Northern Illinois University Huskies, will compete at historic Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven to kick off the 2020 RussMatt Central Florida Baseball Invitational in a three game, weekend spanning series.

The baseball invitational has called Polk County home since 2009, and today is the largest collegiate spring training event in the country. Comprised of NCAA Division I, II and III schools, as well as NAIA programs and junior colleges, Polk County hotels will enjoy approximately 30,000 room nights during the event’s 39 day duration.

A pitcher throws the ball to a hitter at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven

“As the business community in the area knows, RussMatt means full tables at local restaurants and full rooms for local hoteliers,” said Mark Jackson, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing director. “This year, with the increase in teams, we project a $30 million shot-in-the-arm for the area.”

And while Auburndale’s Lake Myrtle Sports Park and Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes Park host the majority of the games, other facilities – such as Warner University in Lake Wales, Henley Field in Lakeland and Polk State College in Winter Haven – will have a few games as well.

The tournament ends April 1, barring rescheduling due to inclement weather.