College World Series a home run for Omaha's economy

Posted at 4:13 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 18:39:24-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — College World Series baseball is back in Omaha.

"It's just a tremendous couple of weeks for us," said Steve Hilton, General Manager of the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District.

Metro businesses couldn't be happier. A new study by two Creighton University economic professors reveals the last time thousands of fans filled the stands at the CWS, the city scored big.

The 2019 College World Series generated more than $88 million for Omaha alone.

Most who attend the games are from out of state, but local industries benefit.

Metro restaurants see the biggest boost.

"You could equate it to Black Friday for anywhere downtown. It's two weeks of Black Friday," explained Sam Heimerman, DJ's Dugout Assistant Manager.

After a canceled CWS last year and the pandemic, they're looking forward to huge baseball crowds.

"We missed out last year. It will be really nice to have all the people from out of town," Heimerman added.

"This year is really the beginning of the return of some level of normalcy in our world of tourism," Hilton said.

Hotels also hit a home run during the the Greatest Show on Dirt. The Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District is completely sold out during the CWS. That's welcome news to GM Steve Hilton.

"The two weeks that we have the College World Series are by far the best two weeks of the whole year," Hilton said.

Part of the excitement is hosting a team.

"We want to make sure we feed them well. We give them great hospitality treatment so they have a great experience here, so they can take it on the field and win," Hilton added.

For hotels, a winning team means longer stays.

"We've had Arkansas and we had Michigan," Hilton said.

His hotel has hosted two CWS finalists.

"We can get them to the finals and then after that, it's up to the team," Hilton chuckled.

Baseball fans aren't just at T.D. Ameritrade Park watching the games. They also spend their time and their money at other places. During the last CWS, nearly 25 percent of visitors made their way to the Old Market. A lot of guests also paid to see one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Metro, the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.

CWS guests boost foot traffic all around town from the Capital District and Joslyn Arts Museum to the Durham Museum and Boys Town.

Those dollars add up. CWS visitors helped contribute a total of $8.7 million in local and state tax revenue in 2019.

While fans pack the park, the CWS brings outside youth baseball tournaments to Omaha. That means more money for the city. Between the Triple-A Crown Slump Busters and the Battle of Omaha, families stay at more than 75 hotels.

Bottom line?

"It's a really very robust time for us," Hilton stated.

As for team Omaha, the Nebraska Nice motto holds true. The number one word used to describe Omaha during the 2019 CWS was friendly - and you can't put a dollar amount on that.

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