1,000-plus youth baseball teams adjust to loss of general admission College World Series tickets (2024)

Mike Thomas has heard all about June baseball in Omaha. So much so that he’s about to drive 1,400 miles to see it for himself.

1,000-plus youth baseball teams adjust to loss of general admission College World Series tickets (1)

The resident of Virginia Beach, Virginia, is justifying the trip like thousands of others from around the country have for years. His son will play in a national youth tournament in town during the day. Evenings are for crossing off the bucket-list item of soaking in the College World Series.

Just one problem for his traveling party: No one knows how many CWS games they might get to see.

Thomas, who coaches a baseball team for players 11 and younger from Five Star Virginia, has heard about the general-admission CWS options available as recently as 2019. Back then, youth tournaments would include a booklet of 10 tickets for entrants that could be used to sit anywhere in the outfield for any game. Accompanying families could easily find the same booklets for $90 — $9 a ticket — at Omaha-area service clubs and Hy-Vees.

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Now The Greatest Show on Dirt is in its fourth year of reserved-only outfield seats. Great for avoiding long pregame lines behind center field. Not so much for peace of mind and budgets for long-distance arrivals.

“It is a little bit added stress because we are driving or flying that farfrom home without guaranteed tickets to any other games but the one we found tickets for,” Thomas said. “We are taking a little bit of a risk there but I’ve kind of accepted that.”

Thomas’s squad is one of 732 that will take part in the Omaha SlumpBuster event. And The Battle of Omaha attracts roughly another 250. Factor in other smaller competitions and more than 1,000 teams — ranging from grade-school to high school — will visit Omaha with their families during the nine or 10 days of CWS games. Most traveling from out of state wouldn’t do so without the draw of the show at Schwab Field.

Assuming 12-player groups with two coaches and two parents, the total approaching 30,000 people rivals that of any traveling SEC or ACC fanbase. Yet their seats are far from assured.

'Is this really what you want to do?'

The best approach for youth tournaments is full transparency, said Brandon Hardy, the SlumpBuster event director. He informed interested teams during the winter that advance group tickets would go on sale in a lottery-style system in March and that single-game tickets would become available April 23. Everything else after that would appear on the secondary market — often with a significant markup attached.

“It’s really us understanding and communicating with the teams and setting the correct expectation,” Hardy said. “We try to, in some cases, scare them by saying, ‘Hey, is this really what you want to do?’”

Thomas and Five Star Virgina put in for 50-60 tickets for the first game of the championship round and got 20 midway up in the left-field bleachers. Enough to cover players and coaches, but parents and siblings were on their own. Thomas got his wife a ticket a row behind where the team is sitting for the game. Parents all tried for single-game face-value tickets in April but were shut out.

Mike Reggio, the youth director for The Battle of Omaha and who is involved in coaching baseball at Bellevue West, said the system should consider setting aside times and allotments for each tournament individually in the future after a “high majority” of his event teams didn’t secure as many tickets as they wanted.

Too many experiences like that, he said, and teams traveling from afar may decide the investment isn’t worth it.

“They’re coming to Omaha for the CWS, they’re not coming to just play in this tournament or any other tournament,” Reggio said. “The draw is the CWS and the ability to have tickets — i.e., general-admission tickets where they can get as many as they want.

“They’re still coming. I don’t want to jinx myself here but I’m very shocked that it hasn’t affected us the way I thought it would. I hope these families find a way to get in.”

Hardy and Reggio both said the moment of truth will come whenever weather causes significant delays. Demand issues for reserved outfield seats spiked in 2022 and 2023 under relatively clear skies. But the next time morning storms push back tournament start times — many teams try to play as early as 8 a.m. in order to attend afternoon CWS games — those affected will need to decide between playing or watching games after already paying for both.

Tournament youth games typically conclude around 3 p.m., so attending evening CWS games is encouraged. Without the flexibility of GA seating, though, every ticket purchase inside Schwab Field Omaha is a potential risk.

Common advice in youth tourney circles has been to wait to buy tickets until getting to town. The idea is when College World Series teams are eliminated or if a school that doesn’t travel well qualifies, prices will drop — another coach told Thomas he didn’t pay more than $25 per ticket when attending multiple games last year.

That notion will be put to the test now in a loaded field consisting entirely of SEC and ACC clubs with enthusiastic fan bases likely motivated to pay well for any openings.

'We could use a lot more seats'

Amy Hornocker, executive director of CWS Omaha Inc., said the effort to provide advance group ticket sales for youth tournaments and corporate organizations was new this year. It was not publicized in an effort to keep out brokers. Total outfield seating — what used to be general admission — is 5,502. The number expands to about 7,000 with standing room.

“We could use a lot more seats for some of these evening games,” Hornocker said.

The NCAA recommends fans use the approved ticket portal — NCAA.com\mcwstickets — because other secondary sales can’t always be guaranteed.

1,000-plus youth baseball teams adjust to loss of general admission College World Series tickets (2)

Hornocker said “the majority” of fan feedback about shifting away from GA outfield seating has been positive since what began as a temporary measure in a pandemic 2021 became permanent. The hours-long lines outside the gates that wrapped around the entire outfield and beyond had also posed challenges for resources and safety of those standing in the heat, she said.

The biggest enduring fan complaints, she said, are about resale prices. Afternoon weekday games are the most affordable — anyone can still snag a pair of outfield seats for $13 each. Weekday evenings range from as low as $37 to $54. Evening games on opening weekend start as low as $91, while two seats together for the start of the title round June 22 go for no less than $130 apiece.

Fans have day-of options too. Team turnback of its allotted tickets may happen and appear on Ticketmaster that morning. If a game is sold out — as often happened with Louisiana State last June — there will a select number of standing-room offerings made available, with prices decided that day. Fans can inquire about those at the Schwab Field box office, which opens at 10 a.m.

“There’s ways to get tickets, especially if you’re willing to come down in the afternoon,” Hornocker said.

Is GA seating — long a staple of the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium and nearly a decade downtown — gone for good?

“There’s no plans for it to come back,” Hornocker said. “I never want to say never, but there is not any general admission in the near future.”

A new generation of fans has heard the stories of winding lines leading to new friends and a reward of front-row outfield seats for those willing to wait long enough. Crowds are also learning to adapt to paperless tickets and the different supply-and-demand realities of a College World Series event whose popularity continues to soar.

“It would be nice to be able to do GA booklets,” Thomas said, “but I don’t know any different, to be honest with you.”

Photos: 2024 College World Series stadium menu

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1,000-plus youth baseball teams adjust to loss of general admission College World Series tickets (2024)

FAQs

How many teams make it to Omaha for College World Series? ›

The NCAA Division I baseball tournament is a 64-team tournament in the spring. After two rounds of play (which each consist of multiple games), there are just eight teams left. These eight teams then head to Omaha, Nebraska, for the Men's College World Series.

How much are tickets to the College Baseball World Series? ›

College World Series ticket prices

Each of the three days has varying prices, but two seats for Game 1 will run you from $286 per ticket to nearly $3,000 for just behind home plate. Game 2 drops to $189 each on the bottom end, while topping out at $4,580.

How many people attend the College World Series in Omaha? ›

Total attendance at 2024's Greatest Show on Dirt was 371,818 and would have broken last year's all-time record if either bracket final had required an if-necessary game. The per-game attendance average of 24,788 set a new mark, surpassing last year's 24,559.

How much money does the College World Series make? ›

Exploring the NCAA tournament's earnings. According to propublica.org, last year's earnings for the College World Series of Omaha, Inc., was a total of $491,406. The College World Series of Omaha, Inc., is the organization that runs the CWS each year.

Why does Omaha always host the College World Series? ›

Several businessmen in Omaha, led by Johnny Rosenblatt, were very instrumental in bringing the College World Series to their town. They saw it as the perfect way to showcase their town to the world, put the event in a centralized location, and bring in revenue for their city.

How many seats are in the Omaha College World Series? ›

Home to the NCAA Division I Men's College World Series and Creighton Bluejays baseball program, Charles Schwab Field Omaha seats 24,000 and features a 360-degree walk-around concourse for a perfect view of the field.

Do they sell beer at College World Series? ›

The board ruled that beer and wine will be sold in general seating at the College World Series and Women's College World Series this year. It is the first time that alcohol will be available to the general public at an NCAA championship.

When can you buy 2024 College World Series tickets? ›

The opportunity for fans to purchase single-game, reserved seat tickets will be through the Advance Sale. The Advance Sale will take place on April 23, 2024, online through Ticketmaster only.

How do World Series tickets work? ›

Once a team qualifies for the MLB Postseason, it will introduce a lottery system where fans are invited to register for the opportunity to purchase face-value tickets for each round. The team then draws names from the pool of registrations and tickets are sold on a first-come first-serve basis.

What school has been to the College World Series the most? ›

21 — Southern California

Led by Rod Dedeaux for most of its College World Series history, Southern California has played in 100 CWS games, winning 74 of them. Simply remarkable.

What team has the most College World Series? ›

Here are the DI college baseball programs with the most Men's College World Series titles: USC has won 12 Men's College World Series championships. LSU is alone in second with seven after winning the title in 2023. Texas follows with six.

How much does it cost to go to the College World Series? ›

College World Series ticket prices

Prices for the series vary over the three days of play in Omaha. As of Thursday, tickets for two seats at Game 1 range from $286 per ticket to nearly $3,000 for tickets in a section behind home plate. Game 2 tickets have an even wider range.

Is the College World Series cashless? ›

For the Finals Games, SRO tickets are $80 and each fan will be limited to four tickets. The ticket office is cashless and photo ID matching the card will be requested at time of purchase.

Do World Series winners get money? ›

When it comes to the financial aspect of winning the World Series, there is no fixed amount that the champions receive. The money paid out to the winners is determined by the 'Player's Pool' or prize money, which is generated from all the ticket sales during the MLB playoffs.

How many games does it take to win the College World Series? ›

Similarly to the super regional round, the College World Series championship series is a best-of-three series. To be crowned the CWS national champion, a team must win two of the three games in the series.

How many teams play in the men's College World Series? ›

Men's College World Series format

The eight teams in the College World Series are split into two double-elimination brackets.

Is the College World Series leaving Omaha? ›

Men's CWS will remain in Omaha until at least 2035

The current deal began in 2011, when the tournament also moved venues. From 1950 to 2010, it was played at the iconic Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.

How many teams go to the World Series? ›

That's six from each league (American League and National League) -- the three division winners in each league (East, Central and West) and three Wild Card teams from each league. They play a bracket-style postseason to ultimately determine a World Series champion.

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