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2019 College World Series Preview: MLB Joins the Tradition

TD Ameritrade Park Omaha

The 2019 College World Series is just around the corner, with a Major League Baseball game at TD Ameritrade Park set to get the proceedings underway.

One of biggest summer traditions in all of baseball, the College World Series returns to Omaha with events beginning this week. The College World Series has been staged at downtown Omaha’s TD Ameritrade since it opened in 2011, and now the ballpark is poised to be the host of the first MLB game ever played in the state of Nebraska.

On Thursday, the Kansas City Royals will play as the home team in a regular-season game against the visiting Detroit TigersAs part of plans announced last year, the game will take place as the result of an agreement involving MLB, the NCAA, Minor League Baseball, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), and Omaha’s Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA).

The arrangement is a fitting one in several respects. The Royals and Storm Chasers franchises have been affiliated going back to 1969–the year both began play–which represents the longest active affiliation in Triple-A baseball, and gives the Royals a strong connection to Omaha.

For MLB, meanwhile, Thursday’s event represents the latest step in its push to bring regular-season games into unique venues. The 2016 game between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins at Fort Bragg has proven to be a catalyst for ensuing regular-season contests outside MLB ballparks, including the annual Little League Classic at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field–the home of the Williamsport Crosscutters (Short Season A; NY Penn League)–that began in 2017.

In the case of Williamsport, the annual game has given MLB a stronger connection to the Little League World Series. Thursday’s game between the Tigers and Royals could have a similar effect, as it will take place one day before the Opening Celebration Day of the College World Series and two days before the first round of games get underway.

This year’s College World Series features a field of Michigan, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Louisville, Texas Tech, Florida State and Auburn. Games will begin Saturday, with the event to culminate in a best-of-three finals that will conclude on either June 25 or June 26.

Typically, the College World Series serves as the center of a larger series of gatherings in downtown Omaha, and that will prove to be the case again this year. Thursday’s MLB game will be followed by Friday’s Opening Celebration Day, an all-day event that includes team practices early in the day and concludes with opening ceremonies that run from 8:45 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The annual Omaha Baseball Village is also returning this year, taking place in the parking lot of The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill, located near TD Ameritrade Park. Omaha Baseball Village offers a variety of vendors and events throughout the College World Series, including offerings to coincide with Thursday’s MLB game.

The College World Series has built a rich baseball tradition over several decades. That tradition will continue this year, but the MLB game could be the start of a 2019 edition that is truly unique.

Image courtesy TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. 

This article first appeared in the Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Ballpark Digest newsletter.

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