The College World Series was first played at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha a year ago. The consensus was that while things went well, there's always room for improvement. The Old Market, for example, saw little impact.
Joe Menaugh of CWS Omaha Inc. says they learned a lot from 2011’s event. “A lot of people were scared to come down, kind of feeling out the first series, how things were going to work, whether it was with parking or the traffic flow coming in and out of the stadium."
One of the big concerns was where those crowds were spending their money near the stadium. The focus for year two is getting more people back downtown to spend their money once again.
“Human nature being what it is, they are a lot like water, they are going to follow that path of least resistance and they are just going to go to the place where they can have that bottle of beer quicker,” said Brandon Henery, general manager of Michael’s at The Market, who blames the beer tents.
Last year, the co-owner of Michael's on the corner of 11th and Harney ramped up business to prepare for the crowds, only to see the idea go bust. Business was slower than normal days.
According to the city planning department, 10 beer tent applications have been approved for the CWS by a City Council sub-committee, the same as last year. Six are within immediate proximity of the stadium and four are further away. The committee also approved extending live music to 1 a.m.
“I wish it would have never moved,” said Henery. “I know that sounds funny to say because it moved six blocks away from me, but quite frankly it's done no good.”
A big change this year, at least we hope, is no threat of flooding from the Missouri River. The Omaha Downtown Improvement District says that will help make downtown even more attractive, especially for those who have no interest in baseball.
“No matter how big the event is and CWS is definitely one of our largest events, it itself does not overtake downtown Omaha,” said Joe Gudenrath with the Omaha Downtown Improvement District. “We have the capacity to host a number of events going on at the same time."
A new challenge this year will be that as the College World Series wraps up, the Olympic Swim Trials begin next door at the CenturyLink Center. There will be some schedule overlap.
On Monday, June 25, the Olympic Swim Trial begin. That night is game 2 of the CWS championship game.
CWS pass holders will get to park in the nearby lots of MECA.
Swim trial fans will be encouraged to take a super shuttle -- where they can park and ride from various locations in the city.
There is also the possibility of two overlapping days if the championship series goes to a third game in the best-of-three series.
Organizers have said they are prepared for the influx of people -- 24,000 are expected at the ballpark along with 14,000 at the arena for swimming. And it's not counting the people who tailgate or just want to be a part of the atmosphere.
"I think they can manage it," said Vincent Turner of Omaha who was eating dinner downtown at DJ's Dugout. "I'd rather they have the activity going on and there are traffic jams than not having both of those going."
It's likely Michael Phelps, the most decorated swimmer in history with 14 gold medals, would be swimming in the finals of the 400 Individual Medley on that Monday night.
MECA continues to work on parking. It has a contractor putting in 630 new parking spaces just north of the CenturyLink Center.
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