Omaha and the CWS

CWS: It's time for the NCAA to return the love
By Glenn Tanner - June 21, 2007

Yesterday I took my family and camera to the awesome Henry Doorly Zoo, right next to Rosenblatt Stadium, then to two College World Series games.

The zoo was incredible, the weather was perfect and the baseball was top notch. It looked like another perfect day in Omaha. Looks, however, can be deceiving. Mostly because there is a group of suits that just don't seem to get it.

Somewhere this week, an NCAA committee is meeting to decide the CWS's future in Omaha. Not sure when or where, but this group of administrators whose primary goal is to maximize revenue for the world's most profitable non-profit organization is locked away somewhere brainstorming how to get more money out of Omaha.

That committee has supposedly decided that Rosenblatt stadium in its current state is not adequate. It's so inadequate (ie, not profitable enough for them), that reportedly there are already plans to tear down college baseball's original Field of Dreams.

The City of Omaha's plan was to build a $50 million stadium downtown to replace Rosenblatt, but we've received word this week that the NCAA is not pleased with the specifics of that plan, either.

So these meetings to decide the fate of Omaha and the CWS basically boil down to the committee deciding how big of a gun to point at Omaha's head and how much money to demand from the city.

Yet while these meetings go on, CWS fans proceeded as normal yesterday. Let me take that activity and explain something to the committee:

There are tons of reasons to keep the CWS in Omaha (tradition, central location, good weather, etc.) but here's the best reason for the event to stay here -- every one of those people I took pictures of is from the Omaha area.

And it's not like I was searching out Omahans. I'd see someone interesting, ask if I could take their picture, then ask them where they were from. Every time, the answer was "Omaha." Every time. Think about how amazing that is.

Let me explain something to them. If you move this event out of Omaha, you will ruin the College World Series.

This is the 15th anniversary of my first CWS trip. It's astounding how much this event has changed in that time. That first year, the crowds were half as big, the stadium was a rickety old minor league park, 13th Street was fairly clear, not much went on in the parking lots, and you could sit practically anywhere you wanted.
Omaha has grown this event into what it is now.

You have capacity crowds, a beautiful stadium, a spectacular atmosphere, and one of the greatest sporting events in the world because of the city of Omaha and its people.

The NCAA ought to have a permanent oh-face because of what the Big O has done for them, but instead we have this never-ending process of signing short-term contracts to keep the CWS here only because Omaha agrees to toss millions and millions of dollars every year into the pile.

The NCAA might find a city that will promise them more money and a modern stadium, but they'll never find a place that will love and support the College World Series like Omaha.

It's time for the NCAA to get the dollar signs out of their eyes for a change and make a decision based on what's best for college baseball instead of what's most profitable.

It's time for the NCAA to return the love and make a long-term commitment to keep the CWS in Omaha, even without a new stadium.

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