It's now the second year for the College World Series to be held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Fans can expect some changes or new items at the series this year.
“Are you ready for the College World Series!?” cheered Mayor Jim Suttle at a press conference Tuesday morning. Ready or not, it's almost time to "play ball" and workers at the ballpark are prepping the field for the teams, and the stadium for the crowds.
In 2011 the whole experience was brand new for fans, a new location in North downtown, a new ballpark, but in 2012, there will still be some new items, as the CWS is tweaked to ensure a wonderful experience for all.
Whether it's the games on the field that draw fans to the ballpark... or the food, get ready for a new experience.
“We will be implementing instant replay and yes it was a result of the home run/no home run that happened last year," said Dennis Poppe, NCAA Managing Director of Baseball and Football. "We looked at that and tried to make sure that we would avoid that.”
The replay will only be used on home run calls, to determine if the ball is fair or foul, in or out, or if there is fan interference.
“We have fine-tuned a few areas, such as the batter's eye, we have painted upgraded countertops, and added directional signage,” said John Lund, Chairman of the MECA board.
There is also a better system for the deaf and hearing impaired.
“Last year presented an important milestone, the milestone was obviously a transition from the past to the future, for the first year here at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha,” said Jack Diesing Jr., president of the College World Series of Omaha Inc.
But there will also be a milestone to celebrate this year as well. The eight-millionth fan expected during the June 17th, 4 p.m. game. “When you think about it, it's a pretty significant milestone, back in 1950 for example, the total attendance of the series was 17,500, we have more than that per game," said Diesing.
Who can think baseball, without thinking of the food? You may have enjoyed the foot-long, Reuben dog last year. It will be back this year, but it has a few friends.
“Meatballs, one of our new babies this year, it has chicken, beef and pork, and each of them has a different sauce which is very amazing," said the Executive Chef for the ballpark, Dayanny Delacruz. "Loaded dogs, one of them is a tailgate, everybody's going to love it, it has potato salad, bbq sauce, some baked beans, and some cheddar cheese on top of it.”
Also new at the concession stand, pretzel braids with chocolate, caramel, or cheese topping, a S'mores cake for our sweet tooth, and even an option for Vegans, the Sloppy Jane. "Which is tempeh, homemade, some whole grain buns,” said Delacruz.
Also "new" to the CWS this year, the Stonybrook Seawolves. They're the Cinderella story for this series, making the Road to Omaha for the first time ever. Their first game will be Friday at 4 p.m., when they take on UCLA.