For the first time in 14 years next spring, the University of Maine will host the America East baseball tournament at Mahaney Diamond.

The six-team, double-elimination tournament has been held the last four years at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Massachusetts.

But now that UMass Lowell has completed its four-year probationary period after making the move from Division II to Division I and will be eligible for postseason play, America East put the tournament out to bid.

One of the requirements was the facility must have lights and UMaine was one of only three institutions among the seven with lights. The others are UMass Lowell and Binghamton.

The event will be held May 23-26, 2018.

“It’s exciting,” said UMaine senior associate athletic director for internal operations Will Biberstein. “It gives us an opportunity to showcase our facilities, the University of Maine campus and the state and our players will have the opportunity to play at home in the tournament.”

The Black Bears will have to qualify for the tournament because UMass Lowell will become the conference’s seventh team and the last-place team won’t make the tourney field.

Biberstein said the financial burden is minimal because, “most of the expenses are deferred though the conference.”

“We will have our staff working at the event,” said Biberstein. “We have the reputation of being a good host institution.”

UMaine hosted several NCAA Northeast Regional baseball tournaments in the 1980s when the Black Bears made five of their seven College World Series appearances. In addition to 2004, UMaine had also ran the tournament in 2002 and 1996.

“This is a big win for the university. It is the most suited institution to host it,” said UMaine interim head baseball coach Nick Derba.

In addition to the 4,400-seat FieldTurf facility, Biberstein pointed out that they also can utilize the adjacent Mahaney Dome, the Mitchell Batting Pavilion and the New Balance Field House for teams’ preparation.

Biberstein said there is no shortage of hotels or restaurants in the area which will make it even more appealing to people from the other schools.

“One of our responsibilities as a state institution is to make an economic impact and I believe this tournament will have an economic impact on the area and the state,” said Biberstein.

Biberstein said they weren’t concerned about the attendance figures when they placed the bid. UMaine averaged 307 per game for their Division I contests and 184 for their four games against in-state Division III opponents.

“I firmly believe the community will come out and support championship baseball,” said Biberstein, noting how well the Bangor area supported the Senior League World Series for many years at Mansfield Stadium. “People want to watch quality baseball. A lot of high school, American Legion and Little League folks really connect to baseball. They’re going to come out.”

The Black Bears haven’t won the conference title since 2011 but Derba said hosting the event will serve as a “huge motivating factor” for the players.

UMaine went 25-29 this season and won four games in the America East tournament after losing it opener to reach the finals. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County beat the Bears 2-1 in 10 innings to claim the title.

A search committee is in the process of identifying candidates for the vacant head coaching position.