The College World Series moves into its 65th year in a row here in Omaha with big crowds expected.
The first games are scheduled for Saturday and fans are showing up at TD Ameritrade Park at a record pace. Last year, the series drew an average of 24,392 fans per game and this year attendance should hit a milestone.
Jack Diesing, with the CWS, said, “The record pace is going to put us in a position to have the one millionth fan at TD Ameritrade Park in less than four years - actually during the first game between the UC-Irvine Anteaters and the Texas Longhorns."
The eight teams begin practice on Friday. That will be followed by the Fan Fest that includes autograph sessions and a concert, all free-of-charge. And if you're going to one of the games on Saturday you should know what’s on the menu at the ballpark.
This year’s menu features the hot dog, but that hot dog is all dressed up as the Danger Dog topped with pulled pork and jalapeno slaw, the Cowboy Dog complete with bacon and bar-b-que sauce and then there’s this year’s wow item on the menu: the Batter’s Box Nachos.
Chef Tyler Humphrey said, “It’s a Colassio Nacho meant for sharing. Three different varieties of nachos, buffalo pulled chicken bar-b-que pork, chili cheese, lots of cool things. I'm sure everyone will enjoy that.”
The chefs at TD Ameritrade Park went all out this year so we brought in an expert on stadium food to see just how good this stuff really tastes. Sports Director Ross Jernstrom has sampled stadium food from the west coast all the way to Madison Square Garden.
He said, “This is really good food but I’m more of a really just a plain hot dog, peanuts kind of guy. This is for the VIPs I think.”
Everyone who comes to the ballpark can eat like a VIP. This is Omaha’s chance to shine in the national spotlight.
Chef Humphrey said, "All eyes are on TD Ameritrade Park College World Series. It's big for everyone involved we try to bring out pull out all the stops for this event and make it work and everything tastes great as well."
There are also fresh vegetables and fruit on the menu. We checked with stadium officials and it is legal to serve that kind of stuff at a ballpark.
If you plan on going to the CWS, there's a way to avoid the road to the ballpark and all the problems of trying to find a place to park.
Metro Transit offers stress-free transportation options for fans. They have four park-and-ride stadium express sites.
One is at L Street Marketplace. You can park at 121st and I Street, board north of Anytime Fitness. The other sites are at Baker's at American Plaza in Bellevue, 801 Galvin Road; The Westroads Mall and the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. Park your car for free. The one-way fare is $3.
Metro’s Linda Barritt said, “This is our 20th anniversary of running park-and-ride lots for the College World Series and we've been very proud to be a partner. And the buses are always full and for people who haven't tried it, it's fun because everyone is coming to see the best in baseball.”
The buses will also be used for a downtown circulator. They will run every 10 minutes beginning with opening day ceremonies.
Barritt said, “It takes you to the Old Market and to all kinds of places along the route to eat and enjoy yourself and other parking locations. It's a quarter, the best ride in town.”
For more information on the circulator and the stadium express, click here.
Just like the old days, the zoo is also preparing for the College World Series.
Many baseball visitors will stop by Johnny Rosenblatt Infield at the zoo at some point in the next two weeks. It opened last year and is a memorial of sorts to Rosenblatt Stadium, the original home to the CWS for more than 50 years.
Staff realized they didn't spell out to guests how many things from the old stadium are still in place. They were attaching labels Wednesday morning including one that points out the original location of home plate.