CWS 2023: Omaha excited to welcome College World Series teams, fans
Visitors will get their first look at Gene Leahy Mall during this year’s event
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s mere hours until the 2023 College World Series festivities begin.
This year, the format for Opening Day ceremonies will change: Teams will now attend off-site celebrations after Thursday’s opening practices. This will take out the 12-plus-hour-day that the players went through before they began playing for a national championship.
But 6 News found there will still be plenty for CWS fans to do in and around the stadium and downtown Omaha.
Charles Schwab Field is getting all dressed up for this year’s College World Series. ESPN has its cameras set up to capture all the action; and the City of Omaha is ready and will have new sites to offer baseball fans this year, including the Gene Leahy Mall.
“Last year, I was hoping the Gene Leahy Mall would be done for the College World Series. Everybody looked at it, but it wasn’t open yet,” Mayor Jean Stothert said Wednesday. “So this year, it’s open and people can get in get in the Gene Leahy Mall. They can bring their kids if they want a chance to get away from the game for a while and let the kids play.”
Also new this year in the city: The Steelhouse performing arts theatre and the Luminarium on The Riverfront.
“It’s part science and exploring, and kids are going to love that so a lot of new venues downtown that I think they’re really going to enjoy,” the mayor said.
Not only are there new things to see at this year’s College World Series, but fans inside the stadium will also hear someone new.
John Benedeck takes over the organ this year. He is classically trained, and right now is one of two organists working with the Chicago Cubs.
“He’s doing this as an aside, and we hope you all like this change — and I think he’s going to add some wonderful differences to the experience here,” said Jack Diesing, president of the College World Series of Omaha Inc.
The tune will also change at this year’s free FanFest: The event is growing larger with activities taking over a portion of Parking Lot B.
“The NCAA’s been wanting to do this for several years, and they’ve always wanted to move into Lot B, as in Bob; so they’ve taken up not even a third of the northeast corner,” said Roger Dixon, president and CEO of MECA Omaha.
The extended Fan Fest location will be up and running throughout the entire series. Officials say the new Fan Fest area will add more fun without taking away any public parking space.
“There’s a number of those parking spaces that are controlled by the NCAA, so they gave those up.”
Officials expect a lot of fans will fill these seats at Charles Schwab Field, and there will be a lot of law enforcement in and around the stadium to keep everyone safe
“Unfortunately people do things to big crowds, and this is going to be one of the biggest crowds we’re going to have in the city every year. So we want to be vigilant to make sure we have people watching all the stadium — Omaha Police officers, Douglas County, some state, and even the FBI. So there’s a lot of eyes watching what’s going on.”
Omaha is ready for this year’s College World Series because city officials know for 12 days, the eyes of college baseball fans from across the country will be on Omaha.
AROUND THE STADIUM
6 News found there will be plenty for CWS fans to do in and around the stadium and downtown Omaha.
Charles Schwab Field is all dressed up for this year’s College World Series; ESPN has cameras set up to capture all the action.
You can visit the Union Pacific Big Boy train, which completed its journey to the CWS on Wednesday morning and now sits parked across from Charles Schwab Field.
The City of Omaha is ready and will have new sites to offer baseball fans this year, including the Gene Leahy Mall at The Riverfront, which also includes the Heartland of America Park and Lewis and Clark Landing, featuring the new Kiewit Luminarium.
Omaha is also home to USA Today’s best zoo. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium earned a Reader’s Choice award earlier this year.
And of course, you can always take a stroll across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge — where you can stand in two states at once.
Not only are there new things to see at this year’s College World Series, but fans inside the stadium will also hear someone new: John Benedeck takes over the organ this year. He is classically trained, and right now is one of two organists working with the Chicago Cubs.
Officials expect a lot of fans will fill these seats at Charles Schwab Field, and there will also be a lot of law enforcement in and around the stadium to keep everyone safe.
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