OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – As of right now six teams and their fan bases are headed to Omaha for the College World Series this week.
Two more teams will be added to the field tonight.
The road to Omaha statue will be picture central it always is during the College World Series. The series hasn’t had opening ceremonies since 2019.
It’s on for this year.
Thursday is opening ceremonies: meet the teams, see them practice, watch the Field of Dreams on the big video board and hang around for fireworks.
And unlike the baseball games, this is all free.
You know it’s College World Series time when road crews set up barriers in the middle of 13th Street in front of the ballpark. A safety move and a not-so-subtle way to force pedestrians during the CWS to cross at the intersections.
“We’re just setting up for the series,” said Vince Orsi.
There’s a much different vibe around the ballpark this year.
COVID forced the cancellation of everything connected to the College World Series in 2020 and opening ceremonies were scrapped last year.
Thursday, opening ceremonies are on for the newly named Charles Schwab Field.
Even the hottest day of the year doesn’t stop the set-up for the greatest show on dirt. The sticky signs on the sidewalk become even harder to manage in this humidity.
“It’s brutal. It’s the heat and humidity combined,” said Vince.
As a parking lot is transformed into a baseball village, Monday is about getting booths ready and storing as many supplies as possible to be prepared for a two-week deluge of people.
As the parking lots get turned into baseball paradise for a couple of weeks, workers are starting to pick their favorites. Especially when the road to Omaha for the number one ranked team was derailed.
“I was excited for the Notre Dame win. Tennessee number one all year and they’re out now,” said Vince.
The stifling heat arrived just in time for the College World Series this week.
Underdogs. Many fans gravitate to the teams not expected to be here.
“Who else punched their ticket? Arkansas marched off North Carolina. It’s always exciting to see the pig suey fans come out,” said Aidan Eklund.
As this crew waits to cool off at the frozen yogurt stand, restaurants are trying to manage what’s been a year-long crisis.
“Orange leaf coming soon. They have a trailer,” said Vince.
“Every day you don’t know what’s going to happen. Food truck will be here tomorrow and if I have 70%, that’s a good day. And then I spend the next two days driving around trying to find the stuff I’m out of,” said Kevin Culjat with Rocco’s Pizza.
At Rocco’s Pizza and Cantina across from the ballpark, it’s almost a guessing game as to what will be available for the stock room.
“Trouble getting paper cups and to-go boxes. Anything paper. Bacon and ham. Just strange things you’re never out of and then this era, you’re out of something you never think of,” said Kevin.
While fans don’t love rain delays business owners with air conditioning around the stadium understand how it can help their bottom line.
“Give me the most heat seven or eight or so rain delays a little lightning and some sideways winds. I’m not greedy. I’ll have the first alert storm team on all the TVs,” said Kevin.
But when a year’s worth of business is crammed into two weeks, the supply chain becomes even more critical.
Mississippi State fans helped make 2021 a record year for Rocco’s pizza. Every business hopes 2022 is even bigger.
“Catch a good team who’s going far and the series treats you well,” said Kevin.
It’s a full day here in the ballpark if you take it all in.
The first team practices at 9:10 am Thursday, Field of Dreams goes at 6:30 pm followed by the team parade and bookended with fireworks around 10 pm
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