HOUSTON, TX — The Houston Astros will again host one of the most highly-competitive, early-season college baseball tournaments in the country when the 2012 Houston College Classic, presented by Ticketmaster, returns to Minute Maid Park this weekend, from March 2-4.

The six-team tournament enters its 12th year at Minute Maid Park and will feature hometown schools Rice University and the University of Houston, who will be making their annual entry into the tournament. This year’s field also includes Texas, Texas Tech, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Three of the teams in the tournament are ranked nationally among the top 25 in Baseball America’s poll, including No. 4 Arkansas (7-1), No. 5 Rice (8-0) and No. 21 Texas (2-5). Tennessee enters this week with a 7-0 record; Texas Tech has gone 7-1 and the University of Houston is 4-3.

All nine games this weekend will be televised nationally by The Longhorn Network and ESPN3. The Longhorn Network will air each of the University of Texas’ games, while ESPN3 will pick up the remaining six games of the Houston College Classic.

In addition to the game’s this weekend, Minute Maid Park will also host The Charlie Lucas Band presented by Budweiser, who will be playing from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the main concourse on Friday. The band’s performance is part of the Bud Light Happy Hour, which will feature $5 beer specials. Admission is free with the purchase of a Houston College Classic Ticket.

Friday night’s festivities also include a National Anthem performance by American Idol contestant and Houston native Ramiro Garcia. Vince Young, one of the University of Texas’ all-time greats and a quarterback in the National Football League, will throw out the first pitch before Friday’s 7:05 p.m. start time.

Select tickets for the Houston College Classic are still available and can be purchased online at astros.com/collegeclassic or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-877-9ASTROS. Tickets may also be purchased at all of the Astros regular Houston-area Ticketmaster outlets.

There are $13 daily admission tickets as well as $30 three-day tournament passes available. Children’s tickets (ages 4-14) are $6 daily and $15 for the tournament. Season ticket holders (27-game packages and up) are offered a half-price discount for tournament ($15 per package) and daily admission tickets ($6.50 per day). Luxury Suites can be purchased for the entire tournament or on a daily basis by calling 713-259-8350. The Minute Maid Park Box Office will sell reserved seating in the Diamond Club for $30 per game (subject to availability).

The popular College Classic Coca-Cola Student Value Package is also available for purchase online. This special ticket option, available to high school and college students and kids from ages 4-14, includes a day pass, a voucher for one 16-ounce Coca-Cola product and a regular hot dog for only $10.

Parking for the tournament will be available in the Astros controlled parking lots B and C for $5 each day.

2012 Houston College Classic Schedule*

Fri., March 2       Texas Tech vs. Arkansas                12:05 p.m.

                                Tennessee vs. Houston                 3:35 p.m.

                                Texas vs. Rice                                    7:05 p.m.


Sat., March 3      Arkansas vs. Houston                     12:05 p.m.

                                Texas vs. Tennessee                       3:35 p.m.

                                Texas Tech vs. Rice                         7:05 p.m.


Sun., March 4     Arkansas vs. Texas                           11:05 a.m.

                                Houston vs. Texas Tech                2:35 p.m.

                                Rice vs. Tennessee                         6:05 p.m.


(home teams listed second)

* - times subject to change