Omaha, Nebraska, is often known as Warren Buffet’s hometown. It’s also the host of the College World Series and has been since 1950. Learn why the country’s best college baseball champions head to Omaha, Nebraska, each year.
What Is the College World Series?
The College World Series is an annual event that pairs the best college baseball teams up against each other to determine the winner. The series is held annually in June in Omaha, Nebraska. The series also marks the conclusion of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Baseball Championship.
At the beginning of the series, a total of 64 teams enter a bracket-style competition. The regional round is comprised of 16 pods of 4 teams each. The winner of each pod advances to one of 8 Super Regional matchups. The winner of each “best of 3” series advances to the College World Series. At this point, the College World Series has become synonymous with Omaha, Nebraska. When college baseball players talk about dreams of making it to the series, it’s often referredo as “The Road to Omaha.”
History of the College World Series
The first College World Series was held in 1947 at the Hyames Field in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The tournament was again hosted in Michigan in 1948 before the officials moved it to Lawrence Stadium in Wichita, Kansas. Wichita hosted the series for only one year before it was moved again. In 1950, Omaha, Nebraska, hosted its first College World Series. The series has been held in Omaha annually ever since.
The First Omaha Stadium
The first Omaha College World Series tournament was at the Omaha Municipal Stadium, where it was held for 60 seasons. The stadium was later renamed Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in 1964 to honor the city mayor, who played an integral role in bringing the College World Series to Omaha.
Rosenblatt had pushed for the build of the Omaha Stadium in an attempt to bring minor league baseball teams to the city. After it was finished, he invited sports across all leagues to use the stadium, including the NFL. Shortly after, the stadium became the home of the single-A Cardinals for the 1948 season.
Rosenblatt traveled to Wichita to attend the 1949 College World Series. The event was in its third year and its first year in Kansas. Rosenblatt sat in the stands and imagined the crowds cheering from his new stadium. He set up a meeting with the league’s officials, and the very next year, Omaha hosted its first College World Series.
In the offseason, the stadium also went on to host other baseball leagues. They even became the home of the Kansas City Royals’ triple-A franchise for a few seasons.
People like Morris Jacobs, Byron Reed, Ed Pettis, and Johnny Rosenblatt were all an integral part of bringing and keeping the College World Series in Omaha. Since moving to Omaha, the College World Series has significantly expanded. Attendance rates have increased year after year, meaning it’s unlikely to move anytime soon.
A Brand-New Stadium
In 2011, the College World Series was moved to the TD Ameritrade Park, which was later renamed the Charles Schwab Field Omaha. After the NCAA agreed to a long-term contract to host the World Series in Omaha, the city decided to build a brand-new stadium. The Rosenblatt Stadium had been the home of the College World Series for so long, but it was falling apart and needed frequent repairs. The original stadium also posed a long list of challenges. There wasn’t sufficient parking for the crowds, and the seating capacity wasn’t large enough to meet demand.
The brand-new Charles Schwab Field Omaha is a state-of-the-art field with more seating capacity and more convenient parking. It has 24,000 seats and offers a 360-degree walk-around concourse for full views of the field. Today, the field is also home to the Creighton Bluejays, a Division I men’s baseball team that competes in the Big East Conference.
It took a while to convince fans that a move was necessary to maintain the contract. Some fans had sat in their reserved seats for decades and had a sense of nostalgia for Rosenblatt Stadium.
Some baseball fans wonder why the College World Series continues to return to Omaha. When Omaha first hosted, it wasn’t necessarily a business decision. In fact, hosting the College World Series didn’t even bring in a profit for the first 12 years. Many of the events were staffed by volunteers who wanted to bring some form of professional-level baseball to their hometown. The city had a love for baseball and wanted to create a sense of community around it. The residents of Omaha have always been willing to step up and offer guests the best experience possible.
Volunteers are still a part of Omaha’s draw. Residents welcome college players with open arms. They volunteer to drive them from the airport to their hotels. They help coaches find child care for last-minute practices. Many of them become lifelong friends with teams and coaches who come to Omaha for the College World Series.
Many Omaha residents even got their first business ideas and jobs because of the stadium. Baseball fans and Omaha residents would provide transportation to guests in a pre-Uber world. They would create customized baseball T-shirts by hand and sell them to fans so they could show support for their favorite teams.
Omaha residents report attending their first CWS game simply because it was something to do. Then, they left the stadium with a newfound passion and love for baseball. Omaha now brings in thousands of fans each year for the College World Series, an income that many local businesses and residents have come to rely on. The city had its best year in 2015 when it hosted a record-breaking 350,000 guests over 17 games.
By now, Omaha residents have taken pride in hosting the College World Series. It’s become a birthright for children to attend their first CWS game or a common first date for hopeful couples. The stadium is often the backdrop of engagement, wedding, and graduation photos. Of course, the stadium is also one of the biggest employers in Omaha. It’s not uncommon for guests to see Omaha residents walking to the game, sporting their favorite team’s colors.
The answer to why the College World Series stays in Omaha isn’t a clear-cut one. It could be chalked up to a sense of welcomeness that teams aren’t likely to get by moving to new cities each year. The College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, has become a well-oiled machine that the majority of baseball fans have no intention of changing.
What’s Next for the College World Series?
In 2008, the NCAA Men’s College World Series signed a contract extension that means Omaha, Nebraska, will be the official host of the series until 2035.
Fans who attend the series in 2022 may notice some important changes. Ticket books have moved to a digital setting, which may result in higher ticket prices. This is a result of post-COVID changes. Of course, the 2020 COVID pandemic was difficult on every sport and team. The Omaha stadium was no exception when the event was canceled in 2020, marking the first time in its history.
Fortunately for players and fans alike, the College World Series is back and in full swing. The 2022 College World Series is scheduled to begin on June 16. Baseball fans all over the world are already predicting this year’s college baseball national champions.
Best College World Series Moments in Omaha
With over seven decades of hosting the College World Series, Omaha has welcomed some of the greatest baseball players in history. Many of the top players have gone on to win MLB World Series championships, including Dansby Swanson, Roger Clemens, Ed Sprague, and Terry Francona.
As the host of college baseball’s best, Omaha has also been the host of some of the greatest moments in college baseball history.
LSU fans may remember jumping up from their seats with a sense of happiness that would be hard to repeat when Warren Morris hit a walk-off homer to win the series in 1996.
Fresno State, regarded as the underdogs of 2008, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college baseball history. They had already beat the odds when they knocked the powerhouse team, Arizona State, out of the Super Regionals. They kept pushing, knocking down all the competition on the way to the World Series Championship. This made them the lowest-seeded team to win a national championship, not only in baseball but in any NCAA sport.
At this point in college baseball history, it’s hard not to think of Omaha, Nebraska, when discussing the College World Series. And with the recent contract extension, fans don’t have to, as Omaha will continue to be the open-armed host of the College World Series for the next 15 years at least.
The Charles Schwab Stadium Omaha is a mix of college colors come College World Series season. College baseball fans can show off their college pride with officially licensed sports apparel from Fanatics. Fans who want to relive the greatest moments in college baseball can stock up on sports collectibles and memorabilia.