College World Series: 2021 attendance so far similar to 2019

Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 8:27 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The sea of fans swarming TD Ameritrade Park Omaha is one of the many reminders that things are slowly returning to normal after the pandemic shuttered the tournament in 2019.

But could it be deceiving? The executive director of the CWS said that just because the park can be filled to capacity doesn’t mean things are 100% normal. When CWS 2021 is compared to CWS 2019, a lot has changed.

But not necessarily everything is different. Attendance numbers are similar: This year, the first five games amassed more than 110,000 people. In 2019, that number was 114,000. Organizers said “it’s unbelievable” that attendance is on track to hit 2019 numbers.

“A month ago, when we went to no limitations on attendance, nobody thought we’d have attendance these first five games like we have.”

Starting May 21, organizers literally had less than 30 days from they learned the NCAA would allow full capacity at games during opening day to try to rework sales plans. Since then, they quickly realized that competing teams drew some of their most loyal fans.

“Nor did we think so many people would be coming in from out-of-town, so we are absolutely thrilled.”

But not everything is stacking up quite the same as in 2019. In 2019, the economic impact of the CWS was a whopping $88,300,000. Jack Diesing, president of the CWS board, said it’s too early to call any revenue numbers for this year. But he said that selling the cheaper general admission tickets — a 70-year tradition — was a strikeout.

“We didn’t want to have people standing in line, shoulder to shoulder outside, with no way of contract tracing ... adding another layer of uncertainty to having a full stadium,” he said.

Although general admission tickets afforded fans a cheap way to watch the games, the ripple effects it could have on health was a risk Diesing was unwilling to take.

But Diesing and his staff have a lot more numbers to crunch. In 2019, the CWS created 1,103 year-round jobs, $8.7 million in state and local tax revenues, and thousands more to local attractions such as Henry Doorly Zoo, the Old Market, and Omaha museums. Diesing said that, even if the final 2021 numbers aren’t the same as 2019′s, if 2021 is anywhere close, it will be a home run for the hometown.

Final attendance and revenue numbers for the CWS won’t be known until the end of summer.

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Source: NCAA