Creighton makes its debut in the Big East Tournament Thursday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden. It's been a wild journey, not only for the Bluejays, but for all of Omaha in getting to this day.
First Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and his “Omaha, Omaha!” signal calls created a social media firestorm. Now, images of our hometown team are plastered across the streets of the Big Apple and the Omaha Chamber of Commerce says it's been an exciting buildup to this point.
“It's really unusual,” says Chamber President & CEO David Brown. “I've been here now 10 years. Creighton's had some good teams, but you gotta admit this year's been kind of off the hook. We've never seen this kind of excitement in this community about not just what Creighton has done, but what (Doug) McDermott has done, going into the NCAA with high hopes. Everybody's energized by it."
The national attention can only help the city's image. “Now we have teams and individuals east of Ohio that are worrying about Omaha and they never even had to think about us before, so if you extend that to fans, but also extend that to business owners, to people who might be looking for careers, all of sudden they're exposed to Omaha in ways they never have been before," adds Brown.
The Chamber of Commerce reached out to businesses across the metro, asking them, encouraging them to let their employees wear blue Thursday to show that Bluejay spirit across the city.
The Jays Dancer isn't the only freshman awestruck by this incredible first year of college. “I would have never thought going into this year that I would have the opportunity to be standing in Madison Square Garden with like a billion other people that I love cheering on the team that I love,” says Katie Cascino of the Creighton Blue Crew. “Like that is unbelievable and it's so exciting and I'm so blessed that I like have that opportunity.”
Across the street from the CenturyLink Center, DJ’s Dugout is accustomed to seeing a steady flow of Bluejay fans, but this weekend is expected to be different. Even manager Sunni Renner is used to watching the Jays conference tournament in person, but with it now so far away, she's staying home and expects many fans are with her.
“Because it was in St. Louis and now it's in New York, I think a lot more people are going to be looking for a huge sports bar, a fun atmosphere to hang out with a bunch of other Creighton fans so I think we're expecting a big, heavy crowd this year."
That crowd also includes Husker fans as both teams fight for a conference tourney win. Then on Sunday, it’s the NCAA Tournament selection party.