A Local’s Guide to the College World Series
Welcome Kelli Anne, a Nebraska native living in Omaha. I asked Kelli Anne to give us some insight into Omaha for the 2018 College World Series (“CWS”).
She’s a college baseball and football fan with a penchant for tailgating. She’s been in Tailgater magazine, the Omaha World Herald, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Tupelo, Mississippi newspapers regarding the CWS tailgating. During football season she also writes for HuskerCorner.com about tailgating recipes and gameday experiences. Follow Kelli Anne on Twitter.
It’s About the Games
The College World Series game format is basically like a baseball regional tournament, double elimination.
There are two sides of the brackets and they play until there is one team left on each side.
There are 2 games starting Friday, and going through Tuesday. Then there are 2 days of night games to sort out the loser brackets Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday there are 2 games to decide who plays in the championship. If no one comes out of the loser’s bracket there are no games the second weekend.
Then it’s the super-regional format (best 2 out of three) for the championship. The finals begin Monday and will play until Wednesday if necessary. This assumes no rain delays.
In Case of Bad Weather
Traditionally, at least one of the days there is inclement weather.
The Century Link event center is located to the east of TD Ameritrade. In cases of weather emergency, it is open to the public for safety.
I, myself, have spent a couple of hours in there a couple of times during a fast moving thunderstorm. Mother Nature doesn’t always like college baseball.
Enjoy the College World Series Experience
If you are near TD Ameritrade ballpark, they will have a “fan experience” which includes some interactive games, a ferris wheel, exhibits and vendors.
All around the ballpark you will find souvenir vendors with team caps, jerseys, t-shirts, baseballs, gloves and CWS merchandise. I recommend shopping around the little tents for options on CWS apparel. There are also 2018 CWS specific shirts.
If you are staying a while and have a favorite team, once they are eliminated their merchandise usually will be half price.
See Also: The Case for College Baseball
Getting to the College World Series
The CWS website from the ncaa.com link has great maps for parking (PDF).
Every empty lot within about 2 miles of the ballpark will have a person taking money ($10 – $25) at the parking entrance to leave your car for the day.
I suspect Uber and Lyft will be busy and that may drive prices. There are also cabs from your hotel or maybe a shuttle if you are lucky.
Tailgating at the College World Series
There is lots of tailgating in parking lots around the ballpark. I recommend wandering through to check it out. You never know who you might meet and chances are you know someone somewhere who is next to a grill and a cooler. Finding shade is at a premium and always key.
Gates open at 8 and the grills fire up as soon as they are unpacked. Tailgates around the ballpark must pack up every night. No RVs allowed and no camping overnight downtown. Best option is to contact the casinos if you want to park your camper somewhere other than a campground.
The College World Series is my staycation. I have friends who travel from Baton Rouge, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Denver, Kansas City, Texas and many other places every year to go to the games and tailgate in between. These aren’t your first time tailgaters either. There are those with hotdogs and burgers, but you can also find jambalaya, ribs, pulled pork, and all kinds of tasty treats. The smells that fill the air will make your mouth water.
Speaking of water, make sure you drink lots of it. With the excessive heat, add in electrolyte drinks too. Just drinking water isn’t enough to keep you hydrated after the temps hit 90 degrees in my opinion.
See Also: Tips for Staying Cool at the Tailgate
Food Options Beyond Tailgating
There are plenty of other food options downtown. The Blatt is a great favorite across the street to the south of the baseball stadium. Good food, but there will be a line to get in.
The Drover (steak) also seems to be a favorite of CWS visitors. It’s higher end and the steaks are good, but make a reservation. If you’re in the mood for steaks and can’t get into the Drover, I also like Brother Sebastian’s for the unique monastery atmosphere. It’s a little further from downtown but I love their prime rib Oscar.
Kimberly: If you can’t find a good steak in Omaha, you are really trying to avoid steak. Seriously, there are a lot of great steak options there.
If you want sushi, Blue is the best (downtown or the other locations).
Also downtown is the Jackson Street Tavern for pub fare but a step up. It has the best pub menu in my opinion.
Some other local flavor places to eat away from downtown are Wheatfield’s (soup, sandwiches and dinners), Anthony’s (steak), and Spezia (Italian). If you want some fantastic local pizza, try Piezon’s Pizzeria. It’s owned by a former Cornhusker football player. I love to support people who open up their own business rather than a national chain.
Hotels and Lodging
First, I would say make sure you have a place to stay. Not only is the CWS going on but it coincides with a couple of other kids’ baseball tournaments. Hotel rooms are hard to find and expect the price to reflect that fact. Council Bluffs, Iowa is just across the river and they may have hotel availability. For those of you that gamble, the casinos also provide some entertainment along with the room.
Kimberly: The College World Series is at TD Ameritrade Park. There is no RV parking at the stadium. However, there are quite a few RV parks and state parks in the area.
Things To Do In Omaha Beyond Baseball
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Besides the baseball games, I would HIGHLY recommend the Henry Doorly Zoo. Going through all the amazing exhibits can take an entire day. Wear comfortable shoes. Enjoy walking through the underwater experience in the aquarium. Check out the penguins, alligators, crocodiles, and bats in the Kingdom of the night. The gorilla complex is stellar and the orangutans are usually good for a few laughs. They also have the 3rd largest big cat complex. There is a skyfair lift and a train to help move you through the park to experience several other exhibits new at the zoo. I could go on for days about how breath taking and wonderful it is but I was asked to include a couple of options.
Avoid the Heat
Since there is a heat advisory for the first weekend (temperatures are supposed to be around 99 with high humidity) if you are not going to the games, I would take the time to go to one of the many museums around town. The Durham and the Joslyn are downtown and the air conditioning may be the perfect ticket.
Kimberly: The Durham Museum is devoted to historic train cars. Omaha has an important role in the railroad history in the United States – it is the start of the Union Pacific Railroad.
Meanwhile, the Joslyn Art Museum focuses on 19th and 20th century European and American art, as well as art of the American West.
There are also several malls further west and Village Pointe (way out west) which provide several options for spending money. Great restaurants are around about every corner. Someone once told me that Omaha has the most eating destinations per person than any city. Maybe, there certainly are lots of options.
Outdoor Entertainment Options
For the days the temperature isn’t a worry, stop by and check out Lauritzen Gardens.
If you’re in the mood to explore the Old Market area downtown, there are plenty of restaurants and unique shops to peruse. Actual cobblestone streets will add to the charm of the experience.
While not an exhaustive list of things to do in Omaha during the College World Series, it’s a start.
Pack sunscreen and an adventurous attitude.
Be courteous to those you meet along the way and enjoy the best show on dirt!