Things We Love: Omaha During the College World Series
From the wave to the gear to the beer gardens, here are our top 10 things to experience during this annual championship event.
It’s common knowledge among youth baseball players in Omaha that the first game you go to each year at the College World Series is absolutely critical. Several hours before the game, the ritual begins. For the first time all year, chores are done by 9am, and the family piles into the car and heads down to the ballpark. There is so much to do before first pitch, and there is definitely no time to waste!
When my family would arrive at Rosenblatt Field, the first to do was always the same. I, like so many others, had a decision to make - perhaps the most important decision of my young life... a decision I didn’t want to make but had to make... a decision that was thrust upon me the second I entered the first merchandise tent at the ballpark.
What team should I root for this year?
Oh, how I would agonize over this decision! Underdog or Favorite? First-timer or Powerhouse? Blue or Green? Tigers or Wildcats? After much deliberation and trying on every hat in the store, I would exit the tent dressed head to toe in my new favorite team’s color. “It’s the year of the Tiger baby! Go LSU!” What an exciting moment. To pass the point of no return like that… fate sealed… do or die… the rest is out of my hands…
This is the experience that so many young baseball players in Omaha have during the College World Series. It really is a magical moment each year. This special event turns something as simple as buying a shirt and hat into a ritualistic experience for young fans who repeat this process year after year.
We at From Now On love this amazing event! And so, it is only natural that in the second installment of our series Things We Love, I give you my ranking of the top 10 things to see and do at the College World Series in Omaha this year… with a few pro tips sprinkled in here and there!
10. Fried eggs in the bleachers
Once the temperature at the ballpark begins to approach 100 degrees, you can bet your ass there will be television footage of fans making “bleacher-fried” eggs on the 6 o’clock news. Yup. Eggs. On the bleachers. It does get that hot.
9. Autographs during opening ceremonies
Opening Ceremonies were one of my favorite things about the College World Series growing up. It’s a chance for kids in Omaha to meet the players and get autographs from the role models they idolize most. The fireworks show at the end is a nice cherry on top as well!
8. Tailgates, tailgates everywhere!
The College World Series has always been synonymous with tailgating, and the options for tailgating in Omaha have never been more plentiful. We talked about the beer gardens, but there are other options for tailgating around the game as well. Traditional tailgating still dominates the parking lots with grills, tents, and coolers scattered among the vehicles.
7. Learning the signs and symbols from die hards
Your College World Series experience will not be complete without getting some insider information from out-of-town fans who are following their teams to Omaha. Chants, hand-signals, and rituals are passed from the die hards to the locals and suddenly TD Ameritrade Park is transformed into a pseudo home game for the teams playing. With all the “WOOOO-PIG” chants I heard last year at the Arkansas games, I would have sworn we were at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville!
6. The wave
Good luck finding a College World Series game without a spontaneous wave breaking out. It always starts with one to two sections trying (and failing at first) to get the momentum started. After a few attempts, they’ve gotten the attention of the rest of the crowd, and the crowd flow begins.
5. Left field right field crowd chants
No one is quite sure where the beef started between the fans in Left Field and the fans in Right Field, but the rivalry runs deep. Like a game of tennis, the fans in the outfield bleachers lob insults of “Left Field Sucks” & “Right Field Sucks” back and forth, constantly trying to raise the decibel level, eventually forcing the opposing side into submission and shame.
4. The Rosenblatt v TD Ameritrade ballpark debate
Speaking of debates, you are sure to find a pair of passionate local fans in a heated discussion about the pros and cons of moving the College World Series from Rosenblatt to TD Ameritrade Park. The Rosenblatt Loyalists will argue for nostalgia, a classic baseball experience, and the self-run, blue-collar tailgates that Rosenblatt was known for. The TD Ameritrade Truthers counter with arguments centering around a better location, state-of-the-art concourse, and the modern baseball experience we’ve grown accustomed to in Major League Ballparks throughout the country (with a few exceptions like Fenway & Wrigley). You may not find a more polarizing topic among CWS enthusiasts.
If you never got a chance to visit Rosenblatt Stadium OR if you just want to recapture a little bit of the Rosenblatt magic, you can pay homage to the storied stadium by visiting the Infield at the Zoo - a memorial to the park located near the Henry Doorly Zoo.
3. Zesto’s ice cream
Legend has it that nothing has ever tasted quite as sweet and refreshing as a vanilla cone from Zesto’s on a hot day in Omaha. I would even go so far to say that Zesto’s was used as a key reason NOT to move the College World Series from Rosenblatt to TD Ameritrade Park downtown. I’m certain that I’ve heard dozens of people make this argument in some way shape or form… “Sure we could move the CWS away from Rosenblatt to a new stadium, but it won’t be the same! I mean what about Zesto’s?!?” Luckily, Zesto’s has a new location, conveniently located just meters from the outfield bleachers at TD Ameritrade Park. Go figure.
2. Live music at the beer gardens
Vacant parking lots in North Downtown Omaha go through a wonderful metamorphosis in mid-June. Seemingly overnight, tents, stages, speakers, and massive TVs are erected on the once barren lots. What was once a quiet place for people to take a smoke break has now turned into the live-blood of College World Series tailgating. A perfect blend of music, sports, cornhole, food, and drinks creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere for baseball fans and socialites alike.
The beer gardens will start charging a $10-20 cover at 8pm this year, so if you want to save some money, make sure to get your wristband before the game!
1. Beach balls in the stands (and on the field!)
An absolute staple of the “General Admission Culture” is the Beach Ball bonanza that occurs among the fans between innings. Somehow, expert smugglers get dozens of deflated beach balls past the air-tight security of the ballpark. Slowly, over the first few innings of play, the balls are inflated until finally… the big reveal… Dozens of beach balls get smacked around the outfield, many of which end up on the field. Big shout out to the hard working grounds crew left to retrieve the stray balls before the next inning starts (we all know they’re just doing their jobs when they pop the balloons, but it’s still fun to boo them when they do).
Please don’t jump onto the field to retrieve a lost ball. You WILL be arrested. 😬
Well, there you have it. My top ten things to do and see at the College World Series this year. For a full list of things to do in Omaha, check out the Omaha World-Herald’s CWS coverage & visitors guide. You can also find more information about the event from the official CWS website here or visit the NCAA’s CWS Championship Central here.
Play ball, y’all!
Clayton Taylor is a Customer Success Coach at From Now On.