OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Friday night was supposed to be the start of the 2020 College World Series opening ceremonies. But due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the collegiate baseball championship tournament is not taking place. The event has been held in Omaha since 1950 and this season was going to be the tenth College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park.
“Not only does it feel eerily calm, it hurts a little frankly,” said Kathryn Morrissey, the Executive Director of College World Series of Omaha Inc. “Not having the College World Series is like a hole in your heart, it is like something is missing. We’ve had floods and we’ve had tornadoes and we’ve still had a College World Series so being where we are at right now is something I never could’ve imagined.”
On what should be the busiest time of the year at TD Ameritrade Park, the arena currently sits empty. The site was also supposed to host 2020 Creighton baseball home games and the 2020 Big Ten tournament, but all of those games were canceled due to the pandemic.
“This place was made to host people and be filled with cheers and to not have that be the case will be surreal,” said Kristyna Engdahl, the Director of Communications at the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA), the convention authority that runs TD Ameritrade Park.
“I don’t think any of us ever thought we would be kicking off a summer in Omaha without the College World Series so there is a level of disbelief that the building is sitting as empty as it is today,” Engdahl said. “There are a lot of people who don’t only count on going to the games but also count on seeing people who come to the College World Series.”
With no CWS, the city of Omaha is projected to lose an estimated economic impact of more than $75 million. Engdahl said MECA is absorbing some of the blow, but added the partners who benefit from the CWS, such as the city and NCAA, share in that loss as well.
In the meantime Engdahl said TD Ameritrade Park is continuing operations. Grounds crews are still busy beautifying the field and custodial crews are going from top to bottom to make sure the stadium is cleaned out.
“The financial impact is a little bit of a burden but the real problem comes to the city and the community,” Engdahl said.
The Road to Omaha has to wait another year until 2021. However, Morrissey said the silver lining by foregoing something the city loves, the community can keep thousands of people safe.
“We need to trust that this is the right decision to make,” Morrissey said. “The NCAA made it for all of the right reasons. I just feel sad for all of the athletes who are treated like rock stars this week.”
College World Series of Omaha, Inc. said they are not planning any other baseball-related events at TD Ameritrade Park this summer.
Watch reporter Phil Bergman’s story in the above video.